Newark mayor defends actions in city's water crisis

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is denouncing comparisons between high lead levels in his city's water and the crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“The messaging from other people was deliberately skewed,” Baraka said.

Baraka said Thursday his administration is taking multiple steps to address the problem caused by aging lead water lines.

“The majority of the people, in the city of Newark, don't have this problem. They don’t have lead service lines,” the mayor said.

A lawsuit claims the city hasn't taken adequate precautions and has misled residents.

RELATED: Newark’s water is not worse than Flint, mayor says
RELATED: Newark residents to get water filters to combat lead contamination

Between 15,000 and 18,000 homes are estimated to have the lead lines. Newark has about 280,000 residents.

Some Newark residents say that they don’t think the city is doing all it can. West Ward resident Felicia Alston-Singleton teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council to sue Newark. They say that they want to know more about pipe contamination and who from the city knew what - and when.

“Show us the documents. Let us see the documents that the water is actually testing safe,” Alston-Singleton said.

Flint's water was found to have elevated lead levels in 2014 and 2015 despite officials' insistence the water was safe.

Some state health officials in Michigan have been charged with failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area that some experts believe resulted from poorly treated water.

“That's not what happened here. That is completely not what happened here. What happened in Flint was purposeful and deliberate,” said Baraka.

Baraka claims that the Natural Resource Defense Council Lawsuit only came after the city rejected the Council's offer to supervise the water system. The city will be back in court defending against the lawsuit on Friday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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