NEWARK, NJ - Water filters provided to Newark residents by the city to reduce lead levels in tap water are not working as expected in at least two homes, Mayor Ras Baraka announced at a Saturday afternoon press conference.

The city’s initial test results involved a small sample of three homes. Filters in two of the three homes are not working as expected, Baraka said.

The city does not know the reason the filters are failing and plans to conduct additional tests and expand the sample size. However, the failures appear to have been associated when water in the line was stagnant for a time. 

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Initial testing results show that filters are effective in locations where residents first ran their water. 

“If you live in the Pequannock area, have lead service lines and received a filter, the City of Newark encourages you to take one small step to ensure your filter is working effectively. Before drinking from your tap water, run the water for five minutes before filtering to maximize your filter’s effectiveness,” said Kareem Adeem, Acting Director of the Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities.

MORE: Answers to residents questions about the lead issue

The city says residents should run their water before using it for any activity, including showering, flushing toilets and washing dishes.  This will help coat the pipes and allow the new corrosion control treatment to continue optimizing.

More than 38,000 water filters and 31,500 replacement cartridges have been distributed by the city since October 2018, a Newark spokesman said. 

Further decisions will be made about the best course of action as soon as the city receives additional testing results back. Baraka said the city is working closely with the Governor’s office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and PUR officials, the makers of the filter.

“We encourage residents to take advantage of all the important resources the City of Newark is offering, including free blood testing for children under 6, free water testing and our Lead Service Line Replacement Program.”

Lead levels breached the federal action level of 15 parts per billion in 2017 after the chemical the city treated its water with had become ineffective at preventing lead pipes from corroding. Water samples from the city have exceeded federal lead standards five times for about two years. 

The city began distributing water filters to residents in October, started to implement a better corrosion control inhibitor in May at its treatment plant and is replacing lead service lines

Residents are also instructed to:

  • Use filtered cold water or bottled water for cooking and preparing baby formula, as well as for consumption by pregnant women. 
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  •  Test your water for lead at no cost. Call the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities at (973) 773-6303 to find out how to get your water tested for lead.
  • Get your child’s blood tested. Contact the Department of Health and Community Wellness at (973) 733-5323 or your healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about lead exposure.
  • Register online to replace your residential lead service lines at https://www.NewarkLeadServiceLine.com/Register. Replacement costs will not exceed $1,000, pending available funding.

For other information, you can call the Department of Water and Sewer Utilities at 973-733-6303 or visit www.NewarkLeadServiceLine.com.