Some Belleville residents to receive free water filters due to lead contamination

Some Belleville residents will receive free water filters after their drinking water tested positive for increased levels of lead.
Belleville officials say that three adults and one child have tested positive for lead positioning. Belleville gets its water from the same source as Newark – which has its own issues with lead contamination. Officials say that the contamination is coming from lead service pipes and not from the water source itself.
"It was concerning, it was a bit alarming, you know, we had been hearing about it for quite some time. I never thought that anybody would test positive for it,” says resident Manny Lopez.
Lopez picked up his water filter from the town hall. He qualifies for the filter because his home is about 80 years old.
Belleville Mayor Michael Melham has been pleading for months to get state funding for the filters in his town, which buys its water from Newark.
"It's not always easy living in the shadow of the largest city in New Jersey,” says Melham. “They tend to get all the attention while their little counterparts next door to them don't really warrant all the attention all the time."
Belleville did eventually receive $70,000 from donations from the Greater Newark United Way and Clara Maass Medical Center.
"With the help of Clara Maass [Medical Center], we are just grateful to be able to help you during this time. If you ever need us, we're just across the street there,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.
Eligible Belleville residents will be able to get one water pitcher and three replacement filters, which will provide about six months of filtered water. The mayor says that the goal is for residents to only need the filters for six months.
"We're appreciative of the mayor for what he's done, for fighting for these filters, especially for our elderly and our youngest in the town,” says Lopez.
Those living in multi-unit buildings or in homes build after 1950 won’t qualify for the filters because their homes are not connected to lead service lines. Melham says that he plans to discuss a lead pipe replacement program at his next State of the City address in May.