N.J. lawmakers want Murphy to act on $100 million for lead line replacements in schools

Oct 7, 2019

A pair of New Jersey lawmakers are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to make $100 million available so schools can update their water system infrastructure.

“In my mind, this is an emergency. It can’t continue to delay,” said state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

Last year, voters approved a ballot initiative that would allow the state to borrow $500 million for schools, with $100 million meant to be doled out to protect students and faculty from lead contamination in the water.

But the lawmakers said Friday that none of that money had gone out.

“We need to do even more. Even if everybody is working in good faith, we need to do it faster, we need to do more, we need to do it quickly,” said state Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex.

The governor’s office declined to comment.

The issue of lead in water came to the forefront over the summer, when tests in two Newark homes showed elevated levels. Subsequent testing showed that the levels were acceptable.

But the episode raised even more questions about lead service lines running to homes and schools across the state.

A recent USA Today article found that a third of New Jersey schools had reported elevated levels of lead since 2016.

Sweeney and Greenstein also called on the administration to publish school drinking water reports and better enforce the Water Quality Accountability Act.