The City of Newark hosted a “State of Water” town hall on Wednesday, October 2 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). Residents in attendance from across the city learned more about having their lead service line replaced or how they can volunteer to inform their neighbors about available resources.
“The City of Newark is committed to ensuring all of our residents have access to clean, safe water,” said Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “We have launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to expeditiously replace approximately 18,000 lead service lines at no cost to residents. Today’s panel discussion facilitated an important conversation with residents and experts about how the City has made significant progress in reducing the risks of lead and is putting residents first. We look forward to getting more volunteers out in our community to inform and sign up neighbors for replacing their lead service lines.”
Mayor Ras J. Baraka participated in a productive panel discussion regarding Newark’s water. The discussion was moderated by Public Policy Executive Richard W. Roper. Panelists included Commissioner Catherine McCabe, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; Chris Sturm, Managing Director of Policy and Water at New Jersey Future; Kareem Adeem, Acting Director of Water and Sewer Utilities for the City of Newark; Shereef Elnahal, MD, President and CEO of University Hospital; Hanan Tanous, MD, Associated Professor, Pediatrics and Medical Director of NJ WIC program; and Lourdemillard Bellevue, MD, New Beth Israel Medical Center. Questions were taken from residents in the audience as well as residents who submitted questions in advance by video, email or social media.
“Preliminary results from our water team study show that the filters the City of Newark is distributing are reliably removing lead from the residents’ drinking water,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “Testing shows that flushing before filtering increases the reliability of the filters to more than 99 percent, which is why we recommend that Newark residents flush the water for at least five minutes in the morning or after being away from home for more than six hours. In addition, we are pleased to work with the city on a program that will assist the City of Newark in recruiting, training, organizing and supporting a volunteer force that will install water filters, educate residents on proper filter use, and collect water samples.”
During the event, panelists discussed how the City of Newark is a model for municipalities across the nation with lead issues. On Monday, October 7, the City of Newark will resume its comprehensive water filter distribution program. To date, over 38,000 filters and 31,000 replacement cartridges have been distributed to residents. For more information about water filters or replacement cartridges, residents can visit www.NewarkLeadServiceLine.com. Preliminary testing results by the City, NJDEP and EPA found that over 97 percent of PUR filters issued by the City reduce lead below 10 parts per billion (ppb), which is below the EPA action level of 15 parts-per-billion. When used in combination with flushing, 99 percent of PUR filters issued by the City reduce lead below 10 ppb. The report will be finalized in the coming weeks.
"Any permanent solution to address this issue must include replacing lead services lines. I applaud the City of Newark for making it a priority to modernize its drinking water infrastructure," said Chris Sturm, Managing Director of Policy and Water at New Jersey Future. "The City of Newark has made tremendous progress in a short period of time. Our political leaders can look to Newark as a model that municipalities across the nation facing similar challenges can learn from."
The free event provided residents with the latest information regarding the City’s water and steps being taken to move the City forward, including progress on a first-of-its-kind program to replace 18,000 lead service lines city-wide at no cost to residents. The City of Newark recently reached a major milestone by replacing over 1,000 lead service lines for Newark residents. The City launched a volunteer door-to-door effort to reach more residents and sign them up for lead service lines.
“Research shows that lead-based paint in homes built before 1978 remains the largest contributor to elevated blood lead levels in children. If residents are concerned, they should reach out to their child’s health care provider about blood lead testing,” said Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO, University Hospital. “Lead service lines pose a particular risk to powder formula-fed infants if tap water is used, and may also pose a risk to children under the age of 6 and women who are pregnant. I commend the City of Newark for addressing the lead service line exposure risk definitively by replacing every lead service line across the city—and at no cost to residents.”
At NJPAC’s Chambers Plaza, the City hosted a health fair about the health, education and safety of residents. Representatives from the water filter manufacturer PUR were on hand to show residents how to install filters and replace filter cartridges. Team members from the Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities distributed free water filters and replacement cartridges to residents. In addition, the Newark Department of Health & Community Wellness’ mobile van was onsite to perform free lead testing, and residents were able to sign up to volunteer to go door-to-door encouraging neighbors to get their lead service line replaced. Experienced volunteers were also available to train to train new volunteers.
“The City of Newark is out in the community every day, making progress for our residents. We are replacing lead service lines, testing water for residents, and providing free blood tests for children under the age of 6. To date, more than 1,000 lead service lines have been replaced and over 38,000 water filters and 31,000 replacement cartridges have been distributed,” said Acting Director of Water & Sewer Utilities Kareem Adeem. “We encourage residents to take advantage of all the resources that are available to them by signing up to have their lead service line replaced and installing one of our free water filters and replacement cartridges.”
The event was livestreamed on News12, NWK TV, as well as the City of Newark’s Facebook page. It is available to view here: https://www.facebook.com/CityofNewark/.
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