NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – This weekend officials kicked off a massive citywide effort to help those impacted by the lead crisis.

Volunteers are expected to visit around 18,000 homes across Newark to pass out water and sign up residents to replaces their lead service lines at no cost.

This action comes as the city implements a $120 million program to speed-up the replacement of every remaining lead service line in Newark.

Under the plan, Essex County will issue a bond to replace the problematic lead service pipes. It drastically speeds up the ongoing project, which was initially scheduled to take eight to 10 years. With the new investment, the work should get underway in a couple of weeks and could be completed in just two or three years.

Web Extra: How Lead Can Affect Your Children

The City of Newark has two public water sources. The issue related to lead contamination has all been connected to the Pequannock plant; affecting 15,000 homes with old lead-service pipes.

The other is the Wanaque water system. In August, Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement that testing of the Wanaque system has found that it operates “well within federal standards.”

Earlier in August, the Environmental Protection Agency sounded the alarm, notifying officials about the unsafe drinking water.


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