Lawmakers looking into state's aging water infrastructure

Two bills aimed at reducing lead in New Jersey's drinking water have cleared an Assembly panel.

Two bills aimed at reducing lead in New Jersey's drinking water have cleared an Assembly panel. (4/4/16)

TRENTON - A package of bills aimed at reducing lead poisoning in children has cleared an Assembly panel.

One of the bills passed Monday by the Environment Committee would require lead testing in all schools. Two other measures would help fund lead abatement efforts.

The most controversial measure would pay for lead reclamation through a new recycling program that requires a deposit on bottles and cans. Seventy-five percent of unclaimed deposits would go toward projects that remove lead pipes and other infrastructure that can lead to poisoning.

Business leaders and some lawmakers expressed concerns that the program would hurt breweries and distributors and consumers while failing to provide significant funds for lead abatement efforts.

The hearing comes after elevated levels of lead caused officials in New Jersey's largest school district to shut off water fountains at 30 school buildings last month until more tests could be conducted.

Newark schools released data last week showing that lead above the federally recommended threshold had been found in eight facilities used by city and charter schools.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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