Booker-sponsored bill for clean drinking water passes Senate

Posted: Updated:

A bill sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker to use federal money to make sure everyone has clean drinking water has passed in the United States Senate.

If the Water Infrastructure Funding Transfer Act is signed into law, cities like Newark, which is struggling with lead contamination in the drinking water, could have access to millions of dollars – money which could be used to replace lead service lines.

"I will not stop until every American has access to clean drinking water,” Booker said.

Booker is the former mayor of Newark. He says that with his bill, states could reroute their federal funding from one account to another so it can be used to replace lead pipes.

RELATED: New Jersey state Senate panel investigates state's water quality law 
FULL COVERAGE: Newark Water Crisis

"The majority of those impacted are low-income, economically vulnerable people like the neighbors in my community. They cannot face this health crisis alone,” Booker, a Democratic candidate for president, said.

Newark officials are currently borrowing $120 million dollars to replace 18,000 lead service lines in homes around the city. Officials say that 800 lines have already have been changed.

The city of Newark has started handing out bottled water to thousands of residents, ever since officials found that the corrosion control in the water treatment was failing, allowing lead to break away from the pipes and into faucets in homes. Residents will have to use bottled water until all the lead service pipes are replaced - likely within three years.

As Newark deals with lead crisis, some homes have service lines replaced

But getting permission from homeowners to replace those lead lines is a massive task. So, the Newark City Council is formulating an ordinance where they won't have to ask.

"So, we do not have to get your signature on a piece of paper in order to go onto your property. We can actually change your lead service line without your permission,” Mayor Ras Baraka says.

Baraka also says that results of testing of hundreds of water filters should be known within days - filters that had gone out to residents to protect them from lead in the water.

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