A report from CDM Smith, the city of Newark’s water consultant, has announced good news for residents affected by the lead water crisis.
It finds that of 198 filters tested, all but five reduced lead to acceptable Environmental Protection Agency levels. That’s a 97% effectiveness rating. The report also found that when residents let the tap run for five minutes, the filters worked 99% of the time.
That jives with preliminary results put out by the city and the state in September.
In a letter to the city and the state Friday, the EPA agreed that the filters were working and lifted its bottled-water recommendations.
But the report also found that about a quarter of the filters tested were non-viable because they were improperly installed or maintained.
“It is therefore important,” said the letter, “that the city implement a strong education and outreach program regarding proper installation and operation of filters …”
The Newark lead water crisis was touched off in August when a handful of filters were tested and failed to reduce lead to levels considered safe by the government.
With criticism mounting over the city’s handling of the crisis, Essex County stepped in with a $120 million loan to allow the city to embark on a major lead pipe replacement effort.
So far, the city says more than 2,700 underground lead service lines have been replaced.
But the Newark crisis raised concerns in other cities across the state. Gov. Phil Murphy announced a plan to dedicate half a billion dollars to subsidize local remediation efforts.
But there are doubts.
The state environmental protection commissioner estimated that the cost could be as much as $3 billion. The plan also would require voter approval, and that’s never a guarantee.
But, for Newark, at least, the news Friday was good.