FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2021
Lawrence Hajna (609) 292-2994
Caryn Shinske (609) 292-2994
(21/P002) TRENTON – Furthering the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive plan to reduce lead exposure and protect the safety of New Jersey’s drinking water, the DEP and the City of Newark have committed to new measures that will better protect public health and increase transparency while also resolving longstanding litigation with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Acting Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today.
Newark has committed to continuing its aggressive lead service line replacement, filter distribution, sampling, and community outreach programs. To date, Newark has replaced more than 17,000 lead service lines and distributed more than 41,000 filters. Residents are strongly encouraged to continue participating in sampling, filter distribution and lead service line replacement programs. Meanwhile, the DEP has committed to providing more information online about the quality of Newark’s drinking water and new ways for Newark residents to contact the DEP with questions.
“Modernizing the nation’s aging water infrastructure is vital in ensuring access to clean, safe drinking water and protecting our communities from the dangers of lead exposure,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Our administration is committed to confronting this challenge head on and having New Jersey lead the nation in updating critical water infrastructure to benefit all residents and future generations to come.”
In addition to the new measures agreed upon between DEP, Newark, and the NRDC, the Murphy Administration has committed the expertise and the financing to address the state’s aging water infrastructure. Through the partnership between DEP and the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, between January 2018 and January 2021, the Murphy Administration has facilitated more than $1.5 billion in water infrastructure improvements to help enhance our water resources and protect public health, including $45 million in principle forgiveness offered by DEP to specifically support lead service line replacement programs.
“Our Administration is deeply committed to protecting the quality of our water supplies and the health of every New Jerseyan,” Acting Commissioner LaTourette said. “We know that aging water infrastructure is a nationwide challenge that can have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable, underserved communities. DEP is taking this challenge head-on by adapting our financing programs to support water infrastructure improvements where they are needed most while leading the nation in formulating new drinking water regulations that will reduce lead exposure statewide.”
“By the grace of God we are near completion of our lead service line replacement program and I am thankful that we were able to identify the issue, do the work, and are able to help make our residents safer,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka.
The DEP will be launching a Newark lead online resource center in February. This public information resource center will provide information related to Newark’s compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule, including lead and water quality testing results, current violations, and the status of Newark’s corrosion control treatment. The website also identifies steps residents can take to reduce lead exposure.
The DEP has also established a new email address for Newark residents who have concerns about lead in their drinking water: email@example.com. They can also contact the DEP via phone at 609-292-5550.
Information about all drinking water systems in New Jersey is available through the DEP’s Drinking Water Watch website at www9.state.nj.us/DEP_WaterWatch_public/.