Newark Announces $120M Plan To Fix Lead Water Problems

Sean Adams
August 26, 2019 - 1:13 pm

NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Officials on Monday announced a $120 million plan to tackle Newark’s lead crisis.

The state, county and city will expedite the replacement of thousands of water service lines tainted with lead that connect to roughly 14,000 homes, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

Essex County will secure $120 million in bonds on the city's behalf. Newark will have to pay back the county, but Mayor Ras Baraka is grateful.

“The county executive gave us a call. We went to the table, we constructed this opportunity, this deal, so we get to replace these lead service lines in an incredibly, fast time and we're going to work on something as well so the city is not on the hook for the debt service,” he explained.

With money in hand, they'll be able to fast track the work and get it done in less than three years, not a decade, as was originally projected.

Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo notes the county's triple-A bond rating will ultimately save Newark money.

“Because of fiscal help, we are able to borrow money at a significant lower rate that will save Newark upwards of $15 to $20 million in interest,” he said.

The water supply itself is safe. The lead is coming from these old underground pipes.

Residents have been using filters, but a few samples still had contamination, so more testing is being done to make sure those filters work.

In the meantime, Newark will continue to distribute bottled water to affected residents.