The City of Newark has replaced over 5,800 lead service lines throughout the city since March 2019 as part of its two-year Lead Service Line Replacement Program.
Last year, routine water testing showed that Newark homes had lead levels in their water above the government-approved threshold of 15 parts per billion. As such, the city began an aggressive replacement project in which lead service lines—the pipes that connect individual homes and building to the city’s water main—were replaced with copper pipes. The city states that there were 18,720 lead service lines in Newark at the start of the program.
Lead service line replacement is also a priority at the state level. On Jan. 9, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law allowing municipalities to write their own legislature for the local public water utilities to proceed with replacing lead service lines if homeowners do not sign up for lead service line replacement voluntarily. In this provision, such homeowners are to be given a 72-hour warning before officials begin compulsory pipe replacement.
Governor Murphy, in a statement in October, has said that he has plans to replace all lead service lines in the state by 2029. There are at least 161,000 total lead service lines in NJ, with an estimate of upwards of 350,000 according to the American Water Works Association. The total cost of replacing all lead service lines is an estimated $2.3 billion.
Prior to Murphy signing the bill, Newark had passed its own legislation that allows the city to replace the lead service lines if the owner did not give prior authorization through their online pipe replacement request.
Newark’s website for replacing lead service lines states that each pipe replacement will cost between $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the building and is paid for by the city.
Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark, tweeted out on Jan. 12 that, “Newark will become a model city for eradicating lead threat in water.”