Officials: Newark sees steady drop in lead contamination levels in city’s water

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Newark has seen a steady drop in its lead contamination levels in the city’s water over the past eight months, city officials said Tuesday.

The drop comes amid Newark’s massive anti-corrosion program and lead line replacement project. City officials say that there has been a 74% drop in contamination levels since February. Levels were at 66 parts-per-billion then. They are now down to 17.3 parts-per-billion – closer to the federally accepted level of 15 parts-per-billion.

“Hopefully 2020 will be the last year we’re dealing with elevated lead levels,” says acting Newark water and sewer director Kareem Adeem.

Adeem says that as many as 85 water lines are replaced a day under the city’s replacement program. It has been estimated that each line would cost $6,000-$10,000 to replace. But the city is picking up the tab for its residents.

RELATED: Newark employs local residents in effort to replace lead water pipes 
FULL COVERAGE: Lead-contaminated water crisis

Clarence Drake has been living in the Brick City for more than 30 years. His home was the first on the block to have its lead water service lines replaced this fall.

“It’s not going to cost me $10,000 now, so I have a lot of celebration to do,” says Drake.

Adeem says the city's lead service line replacement program is exceeding the city's expectations. He says that residents wondering when the city will come to their block should be patient.

“The block-by-block approach is very productive for us. Some residents are very grateful and I want to thank them for allowing us to inconvenience them with the detours and shutting down the blocks,” he says.

There are 18,000 water lines that needed to be replaced in Newark. Officials say that more than 4,500 have been replaced so far.

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