Is Newark in a water crisis similar to Flint?

Cyril Josh Barker | 11/8/2018, 11:46 a.m.
Reports indicate that haloacetic acid, which can cause cancer, is in drinking water in Newark. However, Mayor Ras Baraka is ...
Water faucet Public domain photo

Reports indicate that haloacetic acid, which can cause cancer, is in drinking water in Newark. However, Mayor Ras Baraka is fighting back against such reports that water in the city is toxic.

Litigation continues after the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a safe drinking water lawsuit with the Newark Education Workers against the City of Newark in June. NRDC said community groups alerted the city that it had failed to respond to lead contamination in drinking water. Free water filters were given to residents with lead service lines.

“The city’s promise to provide its residents with filters is a direct result of Newark’s citizens taking a stand to protect their health and the health of their community,” said Erik Olson, senior director for Health and Food at NRDC. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Newark’s water has some of the highest lead levels of any big city in the nation. They have known for more than a year, yet they’ve told residents it’s safe to drink.”

Critics are calling the situation a “crisis” and saying that it mirrors what happened in Flint, Mich. Last week, Baraka refuted what he calls “deliberate misinformation” by the media about contaminated water.

This week, Baraka and several officials, including Assistant Director of Department of Water and Sewer Utilities Kareem Adeem and Director of Health & Community Wellness Dr. Mark Wade, held a discussion with reporters to correct misinformation about Newark’s water.

“Newark is not Flint,” Baraka said. “As in cities all over the country, Newark’s water is delivered at many homes through obsolete infrastructure—lead service lines, or plumbing containing lead elements. Newark does not own that lead-containing infrastructure. But Newark, like most cities with lead service lines, must treat its water to make sure that the water prevents lead from corroding from the pipes or plumbing as much as possible.”

Baraka went on to point to several key differences between Newark and Flint, including the need for corrosion control improvements, Newark’s full compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency and securing money to help people pay to replace their lead lines and plumbing.