NEWARK, NJ - Water testing conducted by an independent consultant found elevated levels of lead in one of Newark’s luxury high-rise buildings located in the business district, outside the parameter city officials have maintained was not impacted by a lead crisis gripping New Jersey’s largest municipality.
Residents of the Eleven80 building, located at 1180 Raymond Boulevard, were sent a letter Friday that instructed them to use only bottled water the management said it would provide after testing revealed an elevated level of lead in the water “entering the building.”
The letter gave residents no details on the source of the lead, where water was tested in the building or how high levels were based on test results that came back on Thursday.
“At this time, we are asking our residents NOT to use the water for drinking, cooking, preparing baby formula, or brushing teeth,” the letter read. “Please avoid ingesting water when bathing and showering.”
The letter indicates lead water testing was conducted by the city in January that at the time showed lead levels below what federal regulations consider acceptable.
“The more recent reports coming from other areas of the city were concerning to our residents and to building management,” the letter read. “We elected to perform independent water testing with a qualified consultant.”
Eleven80 is one of the most expensive apartment complexes in which to live in the city, with one-bedroom rents currently at $1,948 a month, a two-bedroom unit is currently marketed for rent at $3,323 a month. The building includes bowling, a fitness center, basketball, a billards lounge, a spa and game room, among the list of amenities.
City spokesman Frank Baraff confirmed the building was not serviced by lead lines and was in the Wanaque service area. City officials met with the management on Saturday, Baraff said.
Messages to Cogswell Realty, which owns the building, were not returned.
Giancarlo Tello, a resident of the building who received the letter Friday night, said the discovery left him worried the city’s lead water problem is far more widespread.
“Considering everything that's going on with the city government, I trust our building's independent auditor more,” Tello said. “I don't trust the city's shifting message goalposts right now as to who is safe and who is not.”
The letter from management to Eleven80 resdients came on the same day a federal judge sided with Newark’s decision to provide free bottled water only to residents serviced by the Pequannock water source whose water enters homes through lead service lines and not to those serviced by the Wanaque water treatment plant.
Building management did not instruct residents to pick up bottled water at one of the city’s five distribution centers. While the letter says the management company would consult with city and state officials, Baraff said the city was not aware that elevated lead levels were detected in the building until the letter began circulating online Friday evening.
City officials have repeatedly emphasized that only households with lead water service lines within the Pequannock water source are impacted by elevated lead levels in tap water.