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Advocates Say NJ Needs To Do More To Deal With Lead Contamination Problem

water fountain

The drinking water at nearly 400 schools in New Jersey contains lead and advocates say the state must do more to address the problem.

The state is reimbursing school districts for the costs of the water testing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley says that's a good start, but he believes remediating lead contamination from old pipes and fixtures should be a state priority.

"When we look at the infrastructure projects that are out there, we are not prioritizing replacement of lead service lines anywhere. We clearly need to be prioritizing them in our school districts and using federal and state dollars to make that happen."

Chris Sturm with New Jersey Future suggests the state certify firms that can do lead remediation work.

"And offer those names to school districts, especially firms that are able to do the work for a certain price. If the state tees that up, it makes is easier and less expensive for districts to solve the problem."

State lawmakers say the federal government will have to get involved because fully addressing the lead problem would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.