NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There was a major announcement in Newark Thursday after years of fighting to clean up the city’s lead-tainted water.
After months of dismal water conditions, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced today the city’s water supply is finally in compliance with federal regulations.
“This is not an opportunity for us to say the lead issue in Newark is finished. However, it is our opportunity to share good news,” Baraka said. “We have begun testing and our levels are showing parts per billion below 15.”
Since 2017, we’ve been reporting on widespread lead issues plaguing New Jersey’s two largest water systems – Newark and Suez. Further investigation found the corrosion system from the Pequannock treatment plant faltered, leaving thousands of families without access to clean drinking water.
We followed city officials handing out thousands of water bottles and 40,000 water filters to exasperated and angry residents desperate for help.
Today, Newark residents celebrate the first sign of real progress.
“It’s a good time in history to be in Newark right now,” one Newark resident said.
“As a father, this has to be really important to you,” said CBS2’s Jessica Moore.
“It’s critical to their psychological development… and knowing he’s not raised like I was raised with contaminated water,” he said.
But not everyone is seeing immediate change.
“The water, it stinks,” one woman said.
Thirteen thousand of the city’s 18,720 lead service lines have been replaced. Residents who still have lead service lines are urged to flush and filter water before use.
The mayor’s office says the full replacement of all remaining lead service lines is expected to be completed by summer 2021.
Newark is still facing a lawsuit by two groups who claim the city did not address the lead crisis in a timely manner.