The city of Newark and its engineering partner CDM Smith won the Water Data Prize for its Lead Line Replacement Program.
The Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) awarded the prize based on Newark’s performance in “demonstrating how lead pipes across America can be replaced quickly and equitably to ensure access to safe, clean drinking water.”
“We are proud to have received this national-level recognition for our efforts to eradicate lead in our city and create a safer, healthier, and stronger Newark for our residents,” said Mayor Baraka. “This victory belongs to every member of Newark’s community who collectively achieved it. It is our hope that other cities across the country will follow our model program to provide their residents with clean, safe, and reliable drinking water.”
The award is given by EPIC, a non-profit aimed at helping build policies that deliver “spectacular improvements in the speed and scale of conservation and environmental progress.”
The city recently completed the nation’s most ambitious and efficient lead line replacement program, pulling more than 23,000 lead service lines in less than three years. The city’s herculean task is lauded by national environmental groups as the “model city” for eliminating dangerous lead lines from its delivery system, and Vice President Kamala Harris echoed that sentiment in a visit to Newark several weeks ago.
“Any awards or recognition we get for our lead line replacement must be shared with our residents,” said Water and Sewer Utilities Director Kareem Adeem.
The Newark team and CDM Smith were the overall winners and will receive a $50,000 prize, which will be invested in other water projects.
On Tuesday, Baraka testified in Washington, D.C. to the senate subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife during the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act: Stakeholders’ needs and experiences hearing, where he shared how the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would help disadvantaged and environmental justice challenged communities.
The mayor also discussed how Newark became a national model for successful lead service line replacement by replacing more than 23,000 such lines in less than three years, at no cost to taxpayers.
In addition, Adeem testified last week before the congressional subcommittee on Environment and Climate on this matter, addressing the importance of Council ordinances that enabled the city to replace lead lines without property owners’ consent, the hiring of female- and minority-owned businesses on the projects, and how the project provided apprenticeship training for residents entering the workforce.