Despite increases in lead levels in the latest water quality reporting period ending June 30, the City of Newark underscored that a new orthophosphate corrosion control launched in the Pequannock Water Treatment System on May 7 is on track to reduce lead levels later this year.
“When we announced important new upgrades to the Pequannock Water Treatment System’s 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. “That is because it takes time for the orthophosphate to optimize and recoat the inner linings of lead service lines to reduce corrosion. 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.”
The most recent monitoring period from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019, showed lead levels of 52 parts per billion with 356 samples taken. This is up from 48 parts per billion and 246 samples taken from the July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018 monitoring period and 18 parts per billion from the January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018 monitoring period. Engineers from CDM Smith anticipated that lead levels would increase during this most recent 6-month testing period as more samples were taken and as a sizeable amount of data collected was well before the launch of the new Pequannock system upgrades on May 7. CDM Smith engineers expect the next reporting period to show a reduction in lead levels as the new orthophosphate corrosion control begins to optimize.
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 Less than half of the households within the Pequannock system contain outdated lead service lines.
Water chemistry is complex, which is why the Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities continues to implement their successful water filter deployment program to distribute free, lead-safe water filters and replacement cartridges to residents during the time it will take for the new corrosion control system to optimize.
“It is important for residents to take advantage of all the resources the City of Newark has to offer, such as our water filter deployment program and the Lead Service Line Replacement Program,” added Acting Director Adeem. “We encourage residents to pick up a free filter, free replacement cartridges and request a free water test. Since October 2018, we have distributed over 38,000 filters and spent over 27,000 hours going door-to-door distributing filters to residents who may be at risk. It is important for residents to remember to replace their cartridge every three months or when the indicator light comes on. We are also modernizing Newark’s water infrastructure through the Lead Service Line Replacement Program to help residents afford the cost of replacing outdated lead service lines on their property.”
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 (EPA) Lead and Copper Rule requiring Newark to address lead service lines. Newark is going beyond the federal requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule, which outlines drinking water requirements for both states and public water systems. Since October 2018, the City of Newark has taken steps to immediately address elevated levels of lead in the water, including:
Water Filter Deployment Program – The City has spent approximately 27,000 hours going door-to-door to reach residents and distribute free filters through the water filter deployment program. More than 37,000 residents have received free, lead-safe filters to date through the City’s door-to-door campaign or by visiting one of seven pick-up locations across the city.
Free Water Testing – The City offers free water testing to homeowners. To find out how to get your water tested, please contact the City of Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities at (973) 733-6303 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get your water tested for lead and or a service line inspection for free.
Lead Service Line Replacement Program – In March, the City of Newark broke ground on an unprecedented eight-year, $75 million Lead Service Line Replacement Program to replace an estimated 15,000 residential lead service lines across Newark.
Partnership with the State of New Jersey – The City’s partnership with the State of New Jersey provides the financial resources that cap out-of-pocket costs for homeowners. While the average cost of replacing residential lead service lines for a homeowner generally ranges between $5,000 and $10,000, homeowners will pay no more than $1,000 under the program.
For more information about the Lead Service Line Replacement Program, as well as how to obtain or install a water filter and replacement cartridges, residents should visit www.NewarkLeadServiceLine.com.
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