News Feature | January 17, 2019

With 'Jaw-Dropping' Lead Levels, Newark Mayor Appeals To Trump For Help

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

In a sign of just how problematic aging water infrastructure still is for major cities around the country, a National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) spokesperson described lead levels in Newark’s drinking water as “jaw-dropping” and “knock-your-socks-off high.”

According to a report from, “Lead levels in Newark’s drinking water are at the highest level ever recorded in the past 17 years, according to the latest numbers released by the state.”

The system served by the city’s Pequannock treatment plant has now been found with elevated lead levels for the fourth consecutive six-month monitoring period, per the report. The Newark water department is set to receive three new drinking water violations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

To address the problem, Newark is working on improving corrosion control and replacing lead service lines to stop the lead from findings its way into drinking water as it passes through outdated infrastructure.

“Newark is still in the process of fixing the corrosion control treatment process at the Pequannock plant, which is contributing to the elevated lead levels, said city spokesman Frank Baraff, adding that the city was expecting the levels would still be high during the latest monitoring period,” reported. “Newark is still rolling out a $75 million program to replace 18,000 lead service lines. The replacement plan is expected to take eight years, with the first phase beginning in the first quarter of this year.”

Baraff also noted that lead testing has increased since Newark has been offering free water testing to residents.

Beyond corrosion control and lead service line replacement, the mayor of Newark has appealed directly to President Trump for help on the issue.

“Mayor Ras J. Baraka wrote a letter to Donald Trump, urging the president to ditch his potential plan to fund his long-sought border wall with emergency funds and instead send some of that money to Newark to replace faulty lead lines that are leaking ‘dangerously high levels of lead’ into the city’s tap water,” The Root reported.

It’s unlikely that Trump will ditch his signature campaign promise and come directly to Newark’s aid over this issue. But high lead levels in drinking water is the direct result of neglected infrastructure around the country, something Trump said he would fix.

To read more about lead contamination in drinking water around the country visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.