City officials and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) reached an agreement with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Newark Education Workers Caucus, which in June 2018 sued city and state officials for ongoing violations of the federal safe drinking water law, including their failure to address the leadership crisis in a timely manner.
A New Jersey federal judge signed an order approving the settlement Tuesday.
Around the time the lawsuit was filed, quality reports released by the city found that drinking water in parts of Newark had been unsafe for 18 months. According to the city’s water quality report, lead levels in multiple locations were above 47 parts per billion in 2018. According to federal EPA guidelines, lead levels should fall below 15 parts per billion.
The report said that “corrosion of household plumbing” is a source of lead.
The settlement requires the city to replace all leading service lines for the residents free of charge. The city estimates that it will be completed in the spring of this year, says Mayor Ras Baraka.
According to a press release from NJDEP, more than 17,000 of Newark’s top service lines have been replaced for a total of nearly 19,000.
Workers in the city installed the new service lines during the several months that Newark was under a novel coronavirus home stay regulation, replacing 40 to 50 lines a day while taking extra safety precautions, the water director said and Sewers, Kareem Adeem, told reporters in July.
Until the contract is completed, the city must continue to provide residents with free lead test kits and water filters for drinking water as per the agreement.
The NJDEP will also set up a dedicated web page for updates to the Newark Water System, such as: B. ongoing sampling of tap water and water quality as well as corrosion protection tests in February, which according to the agreement are maintained at least until the end of the year.
“By the grace of God we are nearing the completion of our lead service line exchange program. I am grateful that we were able to identify the problem, get the job done, and help make our residents safer,” said Baraka in a statement Tuesday.
The lawsuit against the NJDEP and the City of Newark has been dismissed and the settlement will prevent stakeholders from bringing further lawsuits related to the city’s past water situation.
The parties did not seek financial compensation in the lawsuit.
Defense Council officials on natural resources attributed the settlement agreement to “significant progress” by Newark officials in removing the lead pipes.
“Newark’s aggressive lead service line replacement program, which has no direct cost to local residents, could serve as a model for the nation when completed,” said Erik D. Olson, the group’s senior strategic director, health, in a Explanation.
In October, the federal environmental protection agency awarded the Newark Board of Education a $ 7.5 million grant to fund efforts to deal with the remaining lead pipes and fittings in city schools. This emerges from a press release from the EPA.
The Newark Board of Education has determined lead levels in school drinking fountains for years since 2010.
“Modernizing the country’s aging water infrastructure is critical to ensuring access to clean, safe drinking water and protecting our communities from the dangers of lead exposure. Our government is determined to meet this challenge, and New Jersey is committed to updating of critical water to bring infrastructure to the fore for the benefit of all residents and future generations, “said Governor Phil Murphy in a statement.
CNN’s Susan Scutti contributed to this report.