Follow Us:


  • Article
  • Comments

NJ Spotlight Roundtable: Achieving Lead-Free School Water in New Jersey

Schools across New Jersey have tested positive for lead in their drinking water. What can be done to remedy the problem?

Chris Sturm
Chris Sturm of New Jersey Future

Hundreds of schools in New Jersey, including in Newark, have tested positive for lead in their students’ drinking water, raising urgent questions about how to pay for upgrades to make the water permanently safe.

State officials now have $100 million to spend on improving the drinking water infrastructure in schools as part of $500 million in bond funding under the Securing Our Children’s Future Act approved by voters in November 2018.

To spend the money most effectively, officials are considering measures such as:

  • Replacing lead service lines and water fountains;

  • Installing filters or other technology;

  • Concentrating the funding in the school districts most affected by lead in water infrastructure — or spreading the spending evenly across the state.

Robert Christlieb
Robert M. Christlieb, Director of Operations for Facilities in Chicago Public Schools

NJ Spotlight held a roundtable on February 26 on “Achieving Lead-Free School Water in New Jersey.” Public officials, public policy advocates, school district leadership, along with construction, plumbing, and building trades’ representatives discussed how to improve the drinking water infrastructure in the state’s schools.

The keynote address was given by Robert Christlieb, who has worked on mitigating the significant problem of lead-contaminated drinking water in Chicago’s public school system. He noted that 37 percent of the system’s buildings were found to have lead levels above the federal government’s action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Opening Remarks

Chris Sturm, Managing Director, Policy and Water,
New Jersey Future


Robert M. Christlieb, LEED AP, Director of Operations for Facilities,
Chicago Public Schools; designer/developer of Water Quality Testing
and Mitigation Program for lead-contaminated drinking sources
at Chicago Public Schools


Michael J. Furrey, President, Legislative Liaison, American Water Works
Association, New Jersey section; former Advisory Board for Licensing of
Water and Wastewater Operators; Adjunct Professor for Rutgers University

Senator Linda R. Greenstein, Assistant Majority Leader; Law and
Public Safety, Chair; Environment and Energy, Vice-Chair, New Jersey
State Senate

Dan Kennedy, Director of Environmental and Utility Operations,
Utility and Transportation Contractors Association (UTCA)

Gerard M. Waites, Legislative Counsel and Policy Advisor, United Association
Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs

Valerie W. Wilson, SBA, QPA, RSBA, School Business Administrator,
Newark Public Schools


Jon Hurdle, Contributing Editor, NJ Spotlight

Presentation and Related Editorial Content

Robert M. Christlieb: Water Quality Mitigation and Flushing in Chicago Public Schools — A Case Study in Water Quality Management

Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight: Criticizing Inaction on Lead in New Jersey Schools’ Drinking Water Supplies


NJ Pipe Trades logo

NJEA logo

Healthy Schools Now logo

NJEA is proud to partner with Healthy Schools Now in its mission to ensure safe learning and working conditions for New Jersey’s public schools students and the educators and other professionals who work with them.

UTCA logo

Read more in Podcasts, Roundtables
Corporate Supporters
Most Popular Stories