Update: Newark continues to deal with lead in water

Cyril Josh Barker | 7/11/2019, 5:10 p.m.
Last month, Newark officials reported elevated levels of lead in the city’s water in some homes and buildings with the ...
Tap water CNN photo

Last month, Newark officials reported elevated levels of lead in the city’s water in some homes and buildings with the primary sources of lead exposure being lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil.

In response, the city launched a new orthophosphate corrosion control in the Pequannock Water Treatment System on May 7 in an effort to reduce lead levels later this year.

“When we announced important new upgrades to the Pequannock Water Treatment Systems’ corrosion control system in May, we wanted residents at that time to understand that reported lead levels could continue to rise in the short term, but that ultimately our engineers at CDM Smith expect them to drop in the months ahead,” said Kareem Adeem, acting director of the Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities.

The Pequannock treatment area is now using the same corrosion control that remains effective in the Wanaque system, which serves the eastern half of Newark. The Pequannock’s previous corrosion control system, in place since the 1990s, became less effective at reducing the corrosion of lead pipes and resulted in rising lead levels in some homes with lead service lines throughout Newark, as seen last year. Less than half of the households within the Pequannock system contain outdated lead service lines.

“That is because it takes time for the orthophosphate to optimize and recoat the inner lining of lead service lines to reduce corrosion,” Adeem said. “We have made significant progress to date to reduce the risks of lead. We continue to urge all impacted homeowners to sign-up for the lead service line replacement program, as that is the only way to permanently remove the risks of lead in water.”

Following the city’s first exceedance of the lead action level in the first half of 2017, certain provisions were triggered under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule requiring Newark to address lead service lines. Since October 2018, the City of Newark has taken steps to immediately address elevated levels of lead in the water, including a water filter deployment program, free water testing and lead service line replacement program.