Essex County Announces $120M Program For Newark To Replace Lead Lines

Aug 26, 2019

Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo announced a $120 million bond program to speed up the process of replacing lead service lines in homes.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

The City of Newark already began replacing water service lines made of lead earlier this year through a $75 million bond taken out in March.  Essex County Executive Joe Divincenzo says the additional $120 million fast tracks a long-term solution.

“This will allow them to ramp up the program and reduce the time it takes to change every pipe to 24 to 30 months instead of a decade,” he said.

Mayor Ras Baraka says roughly 18,000 Newark homes have lead service lines.  

“It is critical that we create a permanent solution to modernize Newark’s infrastructure and eliminate lead service lines to reduce the risk of lead in the water for all Newark families,” he said.

And while city and county officials consider it a big step towards fixing Newark’s drinking water crisis, Senate President Steve Sweeney says it’s a statewide issue.

“It’s wonderful that Joe is doing what he’s doing for the people of Newark and surrounding towns.  Trenton is next, we have problems with Trenton’s water.  We have problems in a lot of water systems and the state just can’t look for counties to do the job that they’re supposed to do.”

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe estimates about 300,000 total lead service lines in homes across the state, with an expense of roughly $3 billion to replace them.

Newark’s Office of Emergency Management has been distributing bottled water to eligible residents, after samples taken from filters, also given out by the city, exceeded the federal action level for lead in water.