Vice President Kamala Harris visited Newark last week to highlight the success of the city’s Lead Line Replacement Program.
Harris was welcomed by Mayor Ras Baraka and Gov. Phil Murphy at Newark’s Training, Recreation and Education Center. Harris was joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan.
The vice president unveiled the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action plan in December. The plan includes 15 new initiatives by 10 federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Education Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Labor.
“Less than three years ago, we put the first shovels in the ground with the goal of replacing all 23,000 lead service lines in the city,” Baraka said. “Today, we are here to say we have replaced all known lead service lines, and we are confident in saying no city has replaced as many lines as fast with no charge to residents. I want to thank Vice President Harris and EPA Administrator Regan for supporting our city of Newark.”
Harris commented on Newark’s success in the replacement of lead pipes as the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes billions of dollars available for similar large-scale infrastructure projects.
“Newark, N.J. is such an important place in our country for so many reasons. In terms of its history, vitality, in terms of its contribution to who we are as a nation,” she said. “And this has been a longstanding issue. And you came in, cut through red tape, made this a high priority, and have now made it such a role model, that for the administrator and I who have taken to a roadshow to talk about the importance of removing lead from pipes and paint.”
Harris added that she came to Newark at the beginning of a nationwide tour to highlight what the city accomplished as an example and role model of what cities around the country are capable of doing.
Murphy said Newark’s deteriorating water infrastructure sparked a national conversation about the best way to protect communities and families from the dangers of lead exposure in drinking water.
“My administration, with the partnership of Mayor Baraka, led an aggressive, whole-of-government approach to combating the lead crisis and ensuring our Newark families have access to clean, safe drinking water,” he said. “Today, I am proud to celebrate the city of Newark and congratulate Mayor Baraka for their completion of replacing over 23,000 lead service lines throughout the city.”
The city of Newark made $200 million in improvements to water and sewer infrastructure, and filtration, monitoring systems and environmental practices at its Pequannock water treatment plant and reservoir system.
In the coming weeks, the city will begin a $20 million project for more state-of-art improvements to filtration, electronic controls and monitors, and the pumping and drainage systems.