TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Phil Murphy has laid out a strategy to tackle the state’s ongoing lead crisis.
On Thursday, he announced a multi-faceted plan to make the state’s water system lead free within 10 years, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
Murphy is asking voters to approve $500 million to start removing lead water lines across the state. It’s just one of 19 recommendations he’s making to reverse what he calls a lead crisis in New Jersey.
“It is unacceptable that children are still poisoned by exposure to lead,” Murphy said.
And yet, that is the reality across the Garden State, after lead was found in two of the state’s largest drinking water systems, Newark and Suez, this year.
“I am today putting forward a goal for New Jersey to remove and replace all lead service lines from across our state within the next 10 years,” Murphy said.
Murphy wants lawmakers to force utilities to remove customers’ lead lines for free, with the price tag passed on to all ratepayers. He also wants the Legislature to require homeowners to have and disclose inspections for any lead contamination at the point of sale or rent.
“And just as we require children to receive prescribed vaccinations before they enter a child care setting or begin their public school educations, we must similarly require children to be tested for lead exposure,” Murphy said.
Senate President Steve Sweeney said he welcomed the governor’s proposal adding, “We will give all of the proposals that need legislative approval serious consideration and work with the Assembly and the administration to get them done.”
“Lead contamination is widespread issue, not just in New Jersey, but, as I’ve already mentioned, around the country.
To that end, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan Thursday to overhaul how communities across the country test for lead.
“It would require water systems to act sooner to reduce lead levels. Second, it would improve transparency and communications with the public,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.
Thursday’s announcement came nearly three decades after the agency last updated its lead and copper rule with what it calls a more “proactive and holistic” approach. The EPA wants to require water companies to notify customers of high-lead levels within 24 hours and force water companies to meet customers “half way.”
That means the water companies would split the cost of replacing the lines with customers. However Murphy’s plan for New Jersey only supercedes that, requiring water companies to cover the entire cost initially, and then recover that money from all users.