Jan 15, 2019

Lead Levels in Newark, N.J., Drinking Water Hit Record High

Newark’s lead in drinking water now is the highest ever recorded in the past 17 years

Lead levels in Newark, N.J., drinking water reaches all time high
Lead levels in Newark, N.J., drinking water reaches all time high

The latest lead test results for Newark, N.J., revealed the city’s lead levels in drinking water currently are the highest ever recorded in the past 17 years for the city. The latest results are the fourth consecutive six-month monitoring period that the state has found elevated lead levels in the water system served by Newark’s Pequannock treatment plant, which serves all of the city excluding the East Ward.

According to The New Jersey Spotlight, of 240 samples examined in the last monitoring period, more than 100 samples showed lead levels higher than the federal standard of 15 ppb. Furthermore, the 90th percentile of the samples averaged 47.5 ppb, more than three times higher than the federal standard. The monitoring period ran from July 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2018.

The latest test results represent a marked increase from previous three monitoring periods, where the 90th percentile of those samples never averaged higher than 27 ppb. However, the number of samples taken during this recent monitoring period was higher because the city has been offering free water testing to residents in conjunction with the city’s filter handout program.

“The [Newark] Department of Water & Sewer Utilities has been working tirelessly to reach residents and distribute filters,” said City Spokesman Frank Baraff.

The city still is working to fix their water treatment system after a lead and copper study found that the city’s corrosion control program was no longer effective. While they plan to change their corrosion control plan and replace all lead service lines over the next five to eight years, the city also is facing a federal lawsuit with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The city began distributing free water filters to residents with lead service lines in early October and expects at least 15,000 properties receive drinking water through lead service lines with potentially 3,000 more.