NEWARK, NJ - The head of the city department that has been addressing elevated levels of lead in residents’ water died last night, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said today.
Andrea Hall Adebowale worked in the city’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities for about 30 years and spent the last five years as its director. She was a Newark native and graduate of Newark Public Schools, according to the city website.
“She's probably the most informed person about all of these things outside of our experts,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said at the start of a press conference to address elevated levels of lead in the city. “We're going to miss her and it's unfortunate.”
Adebowale spoke to reporters at an Oct. 12 press conference, when the city first announced it would distribute lead filters. She came up to the lectern in a wheelchair before standing. An oxygen tube she was using was visible.
Baraka said she lived in the West Ward, where elevated levels of lead were found. The mayor said lead was one of the last things she spoke to him about.
“Two days ago I spoke to her in the hospital and what she wanted to talk to me about while she was laying there was this issue,” Baraka said. “So it is deeply felt by the people here in Newark.”
The deputy director of the city’s water department, Kareem Adeem, took questions today from the media during the city hall press conference on the topic of lead.
A city spokesman said it was unclear if Adeem would take the helm of the department or a different person.