In accordance with groundbreaking state legislation designed to reduce lead in drinking water and improve public health, public community water utilities in New Jersey have taken the first steps to identify and replace the state’s lead-containing service lines, which deliver water to individual dwellings. Within the next few weeks, they will send certified letters to all customers who have a known lead-containing service line informing them of the dangers of lead in drinking water and listing actions they can take to reduce their exposure. Utilities will be offering to replace lead and galvanized steel service lines, including the portions owned by the utility and the property owner.
In July 2021, state legislation (P.L. 2021, c.183) was enacted to require public community water systems to replace all service lines made of lead or galvanized steel and all lead connectors within 10 years (i.e., by July 2031), positioning New Jersey to be the first state in the nation to do so. The letters are one of three legislatively required steps that will affect New Jersey water customers in 2022.
As a key step, water utilities will create and update an inventory of all service lines, indicating which are made of lead, galvanized steel, or another material, and make them available to the public beginning Jan. 22, 2022. Residents will be able to search these inventories by address to find out if their homes are served by a service line containing lead or galvanized steel. For utilities serving over 3,300 customers, the inventories must be hosted on their respective websites or the website of the municipality. To improve the accuracy of the inventory, utilities will contact customers who are served by service lines of “unknown” composition to identify the pipe materials that exist on the utility-owned and privately owned sides of the line.
In addition, water utilities must file an initial lead service line (LSL) replacement plan by July 22, 2022. The plan, which will be updated over time, will provide a blueprint for replacing all LSLs and galvanized steel service lines in each water utility’s service area within the next 10 years at an average annual replacement rate of at least 10%.
Tiffany Stewart, co-chair of the JWW Lead in Drinking Water Task Force and Assistant Director of the City of Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, noted:
“We know that lead in drinking water cannot be addressed in a meaningful way until water utilities have a comprehensive inventory of lead service lines, and that effective communication is vital to protecting the public in the interim. The new legislative requirement that water utilities notify property owners in writing if their property is served by a lead service line is a major step in the right direction.”
For more information on:
New Jersey’s LSL legislation, see this NJ.com article.
Lead in drinking water, watch this AWWA video “Getting the Lead Out.”
How to mitigate the public health risk of LSLs, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s webpage on lead in drinking water.
Your drinking water utility, visit Jersey Water Check.
How to identify if you have a lead or galvanized steel service line, visit NPR’s interactive tool.