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Governor Phil Murphy meets with Newark residents served by the Pequannock service area at the Newark Health Department on August 14, 2019. Photo by Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office.

Newark water filters effective, preliminary report says

Filters drop waterborne lead to acceptable levels in 97% of affected homes

By Nikita Biryukov, September 23 2019 3:54 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced filters in homes affected by the city’s water crisis had successfully reduced the levels of waterborne lead beneath the federal action level in almost all cases.

“We are encouraged by these preliminary testing results and are relieved to know that there is no widespread failure of filters issued by the City of Newark, but aging water infrastructure is a state and national problem that demands leadership at every level of government,” Murphy said. “Instead of passing blame as we’ve seen elsewhere, New Jersey is confronting this challenge head on.”

Preliminary filter testing of more than 1,700 samples from hundreds of homes in the Pequannock service area found filters reduced lead levels in water to 10 parts-per-billion 97% of the time and 99% of the time when water was allowed to run before use.

Officials do not expect the results of the study — which was jointly conducted by Newark, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency — to change significantly when the study is finalized in the coming weeks.

“The tests we have undertaken on our water filters show that when used properly they are doing their job to protect our residents from the risks of lead,” Baraka said. “Throughout every step in this process, we have put Newark residents first and will continue to do so. In removing approximately 18,000 lead service lines, we will be a model for the rest of the nation. We regard this situation as an opportunity to excel.”

The city will continue to provide bottled water as filters are installed throughout the Pequannock service area.

Newark is in the process of replacing roughly 18,000 lead service lines, and Murphy said DEP has committed $1 million to help the city recruit and train workers on water filter installation.

The county is bonding an additional $120 million for the replacement of affected water lines.

“The $120 million bond ordinance backed by Essex County is providing Newark with the needed funds to expedite the replacement of every lead water service line in Newark so this problem can be eliminated sooner rather than later,” DiVincenzo said. “Working in close partnership with the City and State, we are pleased to be making sure every resident has access to safe drinking water.”

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