DUMONT, NJ - Today, June 18, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) called for concrete and immediate steps to address North Jersey’s widespread lead water problem in too many homes and schools that are putting at risk the health and safety of our children and families.
In January, a NorthJersey.com article reported that elevated levels of lead had been found in drinking water in homes in Bergen and Hudson counties.
In March, SUEZ, the private water utility that owns the lead service lines, announced they would be replacing nine miles of pipes in the eight towns with the most lead service lines.
Today, Gottheimer toured one of the active work sites in Dumont and sounded the alarm on the urgent need to protect families and communities from the harmful effects of lead water exposure.
Gottheimer noted he recently heard from a young mother and father of an infant in Oradell who discovered their home was within a lead water service area. Their water tested at 186 parts per billion (ppb) lead, which is over ten times the EPA’s federal threshold of 15ppb. Their baby thankfully passed recent medical tests, but SUEZ has only provided the family with a Brita filter, which lasts six months.
Today, Gottheimer called on SUEZ to speed up the execution of their plan of action and agreement with the State of New Jersey, which includes steps to fix the issue, including testing corrosion control water treatment system, creating a new water quality website for updates and information on elevated lead levels, and providing Brita filters to households with elevated lead levels.
Gottheimer also called on SUEZ to accelerate their plan to fix pipes, to further educate the community on the risk of lead water, and to provide a comprehensive plan to fully replace our community’s lead pipes.
Gottheimer also wrote to Governor Murphy today asking, once again, that’s the state enforce New Jersey’s laws requiring annual lead water testing in schools and public release of that data. Only then will parents have the information they deserve about their children’s possible exposure to lead.
“SUEZ has taken the first of what I hope are many to address this contamination, but to be clear, Brita filters and promises of upgrades to our water pipes aren’t enough,” said Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We need to see decisive, long-term action in our communities. We cannot wait while our children and families continue to be exposed to harmful water — in our homes and our schools. We must do everything we can here in North Jersey to ensure our children and families have clean water that’s safe to drink.”
“Congressman Gottheimer has been a real leader in combating New Jersey’s lead problem in our drinking water. Today’s event is just another example of his efforts, drawing attention to the urgency of replacing lead service lines. It is critical that water companies like Suez move as quickly as possible to protect our most precious resources, our water and our children. Lead in our water can cause serious health issues and developmental defects, especially in children. There are 57 communities in Bergen and Hudson counties alone that have tested with elevated lead levels in their tap water, servicing nearly 800,000 people. The polluted water is getting into our homes and our schools. This is a $2.3 billion lead problem that needs to fixed immediately,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “What’s happening in New Jersey is what happened in Flint, Michigan. Lead leaches out the pipes and into our water, especially affecting children. We cannot allow that to continue, or get worse. Those pipes must be replaced. We thank Congressman Gottheimer for being a leader to get the lead out.”
View the letter to the Governor here.
Video of the announcement can be found here.
Click here if you want to know if you have a lead service line.