New Jersey to notify 186,000 residents of lead water pipes by Tuesday

WOODLAND PARK, NJ — More than 180,000 New Jersey residents will be notified by Tuesday that clean water is entering their homes through lead pipes, state officials said this week.

Properties with known lead service lines are scattered in hundreds of water systems across the state, but they tend to be in older communities where lead was often used before its toxic properties took hold. are fully known.

Water service providers are required to send certified mail notification by Feb. 22 under a bill signed into law last year by Governor Phil Murphy. The law also requires providers to replace all lead pipes that connect water lines to a home within the next decade.

“There is no safe level of lead in drinking water or anywhere else,” Shawn LaTourette, the state’s environmental commissioner, said Thursday. “We have to eliminate it where we find it, period.”

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Children exposed to lead can develop lifelong health problems, such as learning disabilities and neurological impairment.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday it suspects many homeowners and renters will learn for the first time that they have lead water pipes.

The latest round of data submitted by water suppliers to state officials showed that at least 186,830 lead pipes still exist in New Jersey. A map provided by the DEP shows the plumb lines concentrated in eastern New Jersey from the New York border to much of the Jersey Shore. Other areas include central New Jersey from Edison to Trenton, as well as some South Jersey towns near Philadelphia.

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Suppliers still do not know the composition of a million water pipes, some of which are more than a century old. Poor—sometimes non-existent—records of the composition of decades-old pipes have hampered efforts to identify areas with the greatest concentration of lead and customers most exposed to a potentially damaging metal, even at high levels. low levels.

The American Water Works Association, an industry group, estimates that there are 350,000 lead service lines in New Jersey. Removing all that lead could cost $2.3 billion, state officials said.

Utility companies from Suez to the Passaic Valley Water Commission have spent the past few years replacing thousands of lead pipes after tests showed high levels. Last week, Newark officials celebrated the removal of 24,000 lead lines in less than three years after high levels captured national attention.

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Some utility companies offer free water testing to residents, but they are not required to do so.

Utility providers must eventually replace the entire service line in the house if lead pipes are identified. Government-owned utilities can recoup costs by charging individual homeowners or raising rates for everyone. Private companies such as Suez can only raise its system tariffs to pay for the project.

Homeowners are responsible for replacing plumbing fixtures, such as older faucets, that may contain lead.

DEP officials direct homeowners to its lead reduction webpage for more information.

USA Today

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