Newark dispenses bottled water after tests show high lead levels

Aug 13, 2019

Newark officials have begun handing out bottled water at various locations across the city after tests showed high lead levels in the drinking water.

Tests in two of three Newark homes showed elevated lead levels, even though those homes were using water filters, meant to reduce contamination, that were distributed by the city.

“Access to safe drinking water is critically important to our administrations, and we take health risks associated with lead in drinking water very seriously,” Gov. Phil Murphy and Mayor Ras Baraka said in a joint statement this weekend.

Murphy and Baraka said they were also contacting the water-filter manufacturer for more information. They did not say how high the lead levels were or how much of the city was affected by the contamination.

Erik Olson, senior director of health and food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said many service lines Newark uses to send water to residences contain lead.

“Many of them are 100 years old or older,” Olson said. “They leach lead right into your tap water, and if the water is corrosive then you can actually get very high lead levels in your drinking water.”

The organization is suing the City of Newark and the State of New Jersey over lead pollution in the drinking water of the Garden State’s largest city.

Kim Gaddy, environmental-justice organizer at Clean Water Action and a Newark resident, said the state and federal government would have to step in to fund replacing Newark’s aging water infrastructure.

“The bottled water, the filters, those are temporary solutions,” Gaddy said. “The only permanent solution is the replacement of the lead service lines.”

The city is distributing bottled water at the following locations:

- The City of Newark Department of Health and Wellness, 110 William St.

- Bo Porter Sports Complex, 378 Lyons Ave.

- Boylan Street Recreation Center, 916 S. Orange Ave.

- Vince Lombardi Center, 201 Bloomfield Ave.