Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday allowing municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements, after providing notice to residents. 

The bill was sponsored by Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor and Shanique Davis Speight, who represent the 29th District, which has been ground zero of a drinking water crisis caused by lead service lines.

“As municipalities around our state replace lead service lines, we must ensure that they have timely access to properties,” said Governor Murphy. “This law equips cities and towns with a crucial tool in combating the nationwide issue of lead in water.”

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Newark has already passed an ordinance allowing the city to replace lead service lines even if it cannot first get approval from a homeowner. The city has so far replaced more than 4,500 lead lines to date, more than a quarter of the 18,720 that the city is taking out in one of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure programs of any kind.

“The legislation Governor Murphy signed today on lead service lines is a major step forward in removing these health hazards from all of New Jersey’s municipalities,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “We hope that this sparks a national policy movement on how all communities should address lead service lines.” 

Kareem Adeem, acting director for Water and Sewer Utilities for Newark, said the city's ordinance was an example for the state.

"Municipal water and sewer utilities agencies across the state can now benefit from Newark’s experience and this statewide legislation to remove lead service lines in their communities," Adeem said.

The legislation permits that a municipality may adopt an ordinance that allows the municipality, or municipal water system, or any agent thereof, to enter a residential property to perform a lead service line replacement, provided that the municipality provides the residents of the property with notice at least 72 hours before entering the property, unless in the case of an emergency as determined by the Department of Environmental Protection. A municipality may not enter into a part of the property that is not directly related to performing a lead service line replacement.

“This New law will help municipalities address the problem with greater urgency, both in Newark and statewide,” Pintor Marin said. “It’s an extremely time-sensitive issue and by authorizing municipalities to enter properties to replace lead service lines, we can ensure the job gets done properly and expeditiously.”

Ruiz said the legislation will help communities with large renter populations.

"This bill will help municipalities eliminate the risk of lead in our water for all families, even when they are unable to reach property owners," Ruiz said. "Especially in communities with large renter populations, this will ensure towns can take action to protect families and individuals living in homes with unresponsive landlords.”