City of Newark nears completion on project to replace all lead water service lines
From the next Flint, Michigan, to a national model of lead remediation -- this is how officials from the city of Newark are describing their project to replace all lead service lines in the city.
It has been about three years since Newark residents found out that their water was contaminated with lead.
“We’re afraid of course. I’m old, my grandchildren lived here,” says JoAnn Martin.
Martin, her daughter and her grandchildren have been buying bottled water ever since.
But Thursday was the day that the Martin family has been waiting for. City contractors arrived to replace the lead service lines on the property. Those lines are to blame for contamination that potentially dates back decades.
Newark is nearing the end of its project to remove all 18,500 lead lines. The city expects to put in the last of the new pipes by the end of the summer.
“A project everyone said couldn’t get done and initially going to be done in 10 years. We’re not even on the three-year mark and we’re closing in on finishing this project,” says Newark Water and Sewer Director Kareem Adeem.
Adeem started his career in the trenches and now runs the department. He says that there is pride in knowing that Newark went from being dubbed “the next Flint” to being a success in record time.
“The city of Newark and the water department has shown you that projects of enormous size can be done efficient and effectively and you don’t have to draw it out with the paper funding,” says Adeem.
Newark residents who are still worried about lead contamination can get their water tested.
“Six months after the water testing line goes in, you can get the testing for free, get your results,” says Adeem.
News 12 New Jersey also reached out to the Newark Education Workers Caucus, which recently settled a lawsuit against the city over its lead issues.
The chairperson says that she is pleased with the replacement program and quick progress. But she reminds all residents to continue to flush or filter their water for up to six months after replacement.
She calls the replacement program a national model, showing what happens when all levels of government work together with the community.