Gov. Murphy, Newark mayor set to roll out long term plan over water crisis

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Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Gov. Phil Murphy announced a long-term solution to reduce the amount of lead in the city's water system Monday morning.

Gov. Murphy and Mayor Baraka announced that they plan to use a $120 million bond to replace 18,000 aging lead service lines around the city.

The bond is coming from the Essex County Improvement Authority. Officials say the bond will be taken out by Essex County and will be lent to the city of Newark.

The project had already begun and was originally slated to complete in eight to 10 years, but with the influx of cash, city officials say it will take about 24 to 30 months to complete the project. Mayor Baraka said there will be no cost to homeowners. It previously would have cost them $1,000.

"We are going to bring more crews in," he said. "I have a project manager ... putting more people on the ground to do work throughout the city."

In the meantime, residents in the Pequonnock service area are still being told to use bottled water; the Environmental Protection Agency is testing filters that were handed out to see if they're effectively keeping lead out of the water.

"Right now they have agreed to test about 225 filters," said Mayor Baraka. "At the end of that, they'll make a determination of the findings and whether or not they should test more and how many."

He added those results may not be in for several more weeks.

Some residents believe this is a problem that should have been handled years ago.

"You have to be happy it's being done, but this is not new," said Hellane Freeman of the Newark Water Coalition.

Gov. Murphy acknowledged time is of the essence.

"We all know that we have to work faster and harder and together to restore trust in their water” said Murphy.

Essex County Freeholders are expected to hold an emergency meeting to vote on the $120 million ordinance Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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