Oct 18, 2018

Newark, N.J., Distributes Free Water Filters Amid Lead Concerns

The city plans to distribute water filters to all homes with lead service lines and begin a replacement program

Newark, N.J., distributes water filters amid lead contamination
Newark, N.J., distributes water filters amid lead contamination

On Oct. 12, Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark, N.J., announced plans to distribute free water filters to residents with lead service lines, following the results of a lead and copper study which found that the city’s corrosion control program was no longer effective. In addition to the water filters, the city plans to change their corrosion control plan and replace all lead service lines over the next five to eight years.

One sampled site in June 2018 had 182 ppb, approximately 12 times the U.S. EPA’s standard. Residents who have or are suspected to have lead service lines are eligible for a free filter, according to The Jersey Journal. The city has at least 15,000 properties with lead service lines and another 3,000 are suspected. City officials will begin handing out the water filters door-to-door.

“The corrosion control presently being used has not been effective in various parts of the north ward, parts of the south ward, the west ward and the central ward,” Baraka said. “We are taking this mess seriously and we have an aggressive plan of action to address this issue as soon as possible.”

The news also comes as the city is in the midst of a federal lawsuit with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who has argued that the city should provide water filters and prioritize pregnant women and children. The non-profit questions how the city will ensure the filters are properly installed and maintained.

The $75 million plan, including filters and replacing lead service lines, could take up to eight years, as reported by CBS Local. The state has partnered with Newark to replace individual service lines.

“It is a long process and if we don’t have corrosion control measures that effectively reduce the amount of lead that’s going into people’s water before we change their lead service lines, we need to act,” Baraka said. “And so that’s what we’re doing today, we’re acting, by making sure that those folks that are affected in those areas of the city will be getting a filter.”