Newark On Alert After Tests Indicate High Levels Of Lead In Water

August 12, 2019  |  

Newark Skyline

Source: Smith Collection/Gado / Getty

On Sunday Newark city officials urged residents to refrain from drinking tap water after a water test determined high levels of lead in the water supply, despite the use of filters. Because of the warning, the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that homes which harbor older water pipes use bottled water as a precaution measure.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also issued a letter to city officials on Friday after a recent survey showed two of the three homes tested maintained high lead levels. Residents will be able to pick up bottled water at four separate locations on Monday beginning at 3 p.m. according to a joint statement issued by Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Phil Murphy.

Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Murphy also called on the federal government for help in their release.

“As we carefully evaluate our options and the data available to us, it is important to understand that the city and state will need support and assistance from the federal government if bottled water is to be provided and distributed to impacted residents,” the statement said.

The city’s water supply held at the Pequannock water treatment plant, provides water for most of Newark and includes neighboring municipalities, including Bloomfield and Belleville, NJ. com reports. While Bloomfield and Belleville have also experienced high lead levels in water supply, the EPA has not suggested the use of bottled water.

However, Newark’s wrestling with lead levels has been an ongoing attempt over the past three years. Last fall, the city distributed 19,000 water filters and 38,000 free filters total over the time period. The water warning is crucial as 50.1 percent of Newark’s population is Black according to the U.S. Census, harkening back to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“I think it’s important for us to determine what is actually going on before we make haste and do something,” Baraka said in a separate statement. “That is why we tested the same houses more than once. Which is why we are here now, because we don’t want to wait until that.”

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