Gov. Murphy: No state of emergency over Newark water

1010 WINS Newsroom
August 21, 2019 - 6:33 pm
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

© Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com

Categories: 

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey's governor said Wednesday he isn't declaring a state of emergency over lead levels in Newark's water.

NJ.com reports Democrat Phil Murphy also said additional testing to determine whether filters are working correctly likely will take weeks. Murphy said about 20 homes per day are currently being tested.

Murphy made his comments outside a meeting with state, county and city officials at the Essex County Utilities Authority.

Democratic state Assemblyman Jamel Holley, whose district includes towns adjacent to Newark and who started a drive to donate bottled water to city residents, had sent a letter to Murphy urging him to make the declaration.

An emergency declaration authorizes the governor ``speed state agency assistance to communities in need,'' according to the state Office of Emergency Management's website. It also can help the state seek federal assistance if necessary.

On Aug. 9, the EPA recommended Newark give bottled water to residents after lead levels in a few homes with the filters tested above allowable levels. Water distribution began Aug. 12.

City and state officials haven't given a firm time frame for how long testing will take, or how many homes it will encompass before a conclusion can be made on whether the nearly 40,000 filters they have handed out since last year are working properly.

 About 18,000 homes in the city have aging lead service lines that are seen as a cause of the elevated levels. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced a plan to begin replacing the service lines that is expected to take several years.

Newark also had to replace its corrosion control system for water coming from a treatment plant that serves about 14,000 homes, after the previous system was found to be failing in 2017.

Prolonged exposure in children to low levels of lead has been linked to nervous system damage, learning disabilities and impaired formation of blood cells

A federal judge heard arguments last week in a motion filed by an environmental group seeking to force Newark to expand its bottled water distribution to residents served by a different water plant. The city argued that those residents aren't in danger.

A ruling is expected this week.