Newark officials say lead levels in unfiltered water are dropping

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Urban News Staff Reports

The most recent tests of Newark’s water show a steady decrease in lead levels, continuing the trend from last May when the City introduced a new corrosion control system.

“Ninety percent of the water we tested has fallen very close to the acceptable federal level of 15 parts per billion,” said Kareem Adeem, the City's Acting Director of Water and Sewer. “As of December, our parts per billion were down to 17.3 in 90 percent of the samples.”

The December reading is 74 percent drop from last February and the decline in lead-levels has been dropping steadily since May, when the new orthophosphate anti-corrosion program began.

“The effectiveness of the orthophosphate is gradual, so we expect to see the lead levels continue to drop,” Adeem said.

Adeem explained these results were from “first draw” samples of unfiltered water.

“We take the samples from pipes where the water has been stagnant for hours, for instance, overnight. This will always make lead levels read higher because the water has been sitting in the lead line,” he said.

“Also, this is also water not run through the filters we have given residents,” he said.

The nearly 40,000 PUR filters distributed by the City have proved to be 99 percent effective in the removal of lead to minimal levels, such as one or two part per billion, the same levels found in bottled water.

The City continues to replace household lead-service lines at an unprecedented pace. The City has replaced 4,556 lead lines, more than 25 percent of the 18,720 lines.

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