Is Lead in the Water a Problem in the Town Where You Live?
The water crisis continues in Newark after elevated levels of lead were found in tap water tested in homes that had been outfitted with filters.
Lead can leach from older pipes, but this is not only a problem in Jersey’s largest city.
During a visit to a bottled water distribution center in Newark on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said many towns are struggling with lead issues because of old pipes.
“Certainly, in this state we’ve got infrastructure in a lot of places that’s over 100 years old. We have some water infrastructure in this state that includes, believe it or not, wooden pipes," he said.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe said to determine if you have a lead issue in the drinking water coming out of your tap, you can check with your local officials because some towns may have records of where lead service line pipes are located.
“I have to say you can’t completely be sure, even if you’re not listed on that inventory, that you don’t have a lead service line because the records are old like the houses," she said.
She said it is not known how many old service line pipes lined with lead are in New Jersey exactly, but the estimate is about 300,000 lead lines.
She said to modernize this vast pipe network, it would cost about $10,000 per line — or $3 billion total.
Officials say people should flush their taps for about three minutes before using water,especially after the water has been sitting in the pipes overnight or for a long period of time.
Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said lead exposure can come from water pipes as well as lead-based paint if your house was built before 1978. Imported goods such as toys and cosmetics, herbal remedies and folk medicines and ceramic pottery also are sources of lead.
New Jersey requires children get tested for lead at 1 and 2 years of age.
Murphy said the New Jersey congressional delegation, and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in particular, has been pushing national water infrastructure legislation that would help to address the issue of lead leeching from old pipes.