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Lead in Drinking Water

Lead has been in the news frequently, nationally and in New Jersey. It is a toxic substance that causes neurological damage, especially to young children. Lead in drinking water is one source of exposure. As indicated by recent drinking water test results from some schools in New Jersey and nationwide such as the widely-publicized crisis in Flint, some drinking water taps are testing high in lead.

To explain why this is happening and to put it in a broader context that considers other water infrastructure needs, the Jersey Water Works Steering Committee has issued a statement. Jersey Water Works has also convened a collaborative task force to develop a practical, broadly-supported action agenda to eliminate lead in drinking water throughout New Jersey. Additionally, Jersey Water Works has developed this library of resources to help educate our constituents on lead in drinking water, including its effects and best-practice solutions for communities, utilities and residents.

The resources are organized into these sections:



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Take Action Against Lead

Jersey Water Works recognizes that not only modern, robust water infrastructure but also an informed public are crucial for the health of our children, our communities and ultimately our economy. In this section of our lead resource library, we provide steps residents can take to limit their risk to exposure to lead in drinking water.  Click here for an introduction to the full Lead Resource Library.

Lead in Newark’s Drinking Water: Recommendations for Residents (Natural Resources Defense Council)

NRDC offers some recommendations for Newark residents to protect themselves from dangerous lead levels in their water.

5 Things You Can Do To Help Lower Your Child’s Lead Level (CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released this straightforward list detailing how to prevent lead poisoning in the home from all sources, not just drinking water.

Actions You Can Take To Reduce Lead in Drinking Water (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency answers frequently asked questions about immediate actions to take to reduce lead in drinking water in your home. Definitions to relevant terms are also provided.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (NJ DOH)

The NJ Department of Health website provides detailed information on how to prevent your child from getting lead poisoning, how to screen for lead, and case management for a lead poisoned child. It includes links to online educational and environmental resources as well as contact information for community based educational resources.

What You Need to Know About Water Filters to Remove Lead (USA Today)

This article includes information about home water filtration devices including effectiveness, maintenance, best models and cost. It provides links to further information about home water filters and a video about how lead gets into our home. March 2016.

Certified Lead Evaluation Contractors (NJ Department of Community Affairs)

This spreadsheet provides contact information for certified residential lead testing contractors around New Jersey. June 2016.

Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative (LSLR)

The Lead Service Line Replacement collaborative’s goal is to accelerate voluntary lead service line replacement in communities across the United States.  This site provides information to help communities facilitate full LSL replacement.

Recent Articles

Tackling Lead in Water in NJ

2017/07/17: Lead found in water at more than half of school drinking water taps in Bergen County (Environment New Jersey)

2017/07/14: New Jersey Future testifies at U.S. Senate roundtable on lead in drinking water (New Jersey Future)

2016/06/13: Millions of federal dollars headed to Newark, Trenton to combat lead (

2016/05/06: New Jersey considers study of aging water infrastructure (News Works)

2016/05/04: Christie: All NJ school water fountains to be tested for lead (

2016/05/02: How an old New Jersey city with water problems avoided becoming Flint, Michigan (

2016/05/02: Christie orders lead tests for all New Jersey public schools (New York Times)

2016/04/28: Water advocates issue ‘workplan’ to help with massive system upgrade (NJ Spotlight)

2016/04/12: New legislation introduced to require lead testing in schools (

2016/03/31: How one N.J. district has beaten its dirty water problem — for 14 years (

2016/03/28: Podcast: Rep. Payne’s lessons from Flint, and what they mean for New Jersey (

2016/03/17: Newark declined EPA’s help with lead problem in 2003 (WNYC)

2016/03/16: Is Your Drinking Water Safe? (Courier-Post)

2016/02/02: Graphic: New Jersey’s water problem, in one graphic (Pacific Standard)


Stories From Around the Country

2016/06/02: At least 33 US cities used water testing ‘cheats’ over lead concerns (The Guardian)

2016/06/02: Chicago residents take action to be rid of lead pipes as fear of toxic water grows (The Guardian)

2016/06/01: What caused the Flint water crisis and what cities everywhere can learn from it (Ford Foundation)

2016/05/15: Editorial: Should Chicago rip out all those lead water pipes? (Chicago Tribune)

2016/05/10: One city’s solution to drinking water contamination? Get rid of every lead pipe (Washington Post)

2016/04/28: Moving forward for America’s drinking water  (Water Online)

2016/04/22: Avoiding the next Flint: Testing school water (Politico)

2016/04/20: Why the criminal charges just filed in Flint are a pretty big deal (The Atlantic)

2016/04/14: Why Flint’s hopes for economic development rest on replacing pipes (The Atlantic)

2016/04/10: How Philadelphia schools’ vast effort to rid water of lead went under the radar (The Guardian)

2016/04/06: Tennessee passes nation’s first lead notification bill (The Tennessean)

2016/04/05: Flint mayor forecasts $35M deficit amid crisis (Detroit Free Press)

2016/04/04: Where’s the next Flint water crisis? Anywhere (Huffington Post)

2016/03/26: Schools nationwide still grapple with lead in water (New York Times)

2016/03/26: Digging further into a water problem (New York Times)

2016/03/21: The aging water infrastructure: Out of sight, out of mind? (Deloitte University Press)

2016:03/11: Beyond Flint: Excessive lead levels found in almost 2000 water systems across all 50 states (USA Today)

2016/02/24: Beyond Flint: How local governments ignore federal water standards (The American Prospect)

2016/02/11: Instead of replacing Flint’s old pipes, why not just build new ones? (The Atlantic)

2016/02/11: Flint crisis reminds us: profit motive has no place when it comes to necessities (The Guardian)

2016/02/08: Many cities at risk of lead in drinking water (Miami Herald)

2016/02/08: Water privatizers have their eye on Flint’s lead crisis (The Nation)

2016/02/03: Flint accelerates plans to replace all lead pipes (The Atlantic)

2016/02/03: Flint crisis renews call to replace all lead pipes in America (Governing)

2016/02/02: Post-Flint, more EPA water protections may be hard for some states to swallow (Governing)

2016/01/28: The next Flint (Slate)

2016/01/27: Making it right in Flint  (Natural Resources Defense Council)

2016/01/25: Piping in Poison: The Flint water crisis and America’s toxic infrastructure  (New Republic)

2016/01/20: Flint has been looking at water all wrong (The Atlantic)


NJ School Testing Information

2016/08/10: Lead Found in School Drinking Water Across New Jersey (New Jersey Future)

2016: Search engine: Newark schools water lead test results (NJ Spotlight)

2016/05/31: Scope of lead risk a serious lesson for North Jersey school districts (

2016/05/23: Which NJ Schools have found lead in their water? (

2016/05/20: Records show Newark school district voided thousands of requests for lead filters (Vice News)

2016/05/19: Survey: 50 NJ schools polled on water testing (

2016/05/19: Are NJ schools too late in rush to test water for lead? (

2016/05/04: Elevated lead found in water in six of seven Bergenfield public schools (

2016/04/27: Lead in Parsippany school’s water was 18 times over federal limit (

2016/04/22: Has your school district tested for lead in its water? (

2016/04/10: A new urgency to test North Jersey schools for lead in water (

2016/04/09: Most school districts in NJ go untested for lead (Press of Atlantic City)

2016/03/27: In Newark, using children as lead detectors (

2016/03/19: Lead at Newark schools: What we know, and what we don’t (

2016/03/19: Elevated lead levels after recent Newark district sampling (

2016/03/10: Lead scare over water in Newark schools underscores NJ’s toxic problem (NJ Spotlight)

2016/03/09: Newark schools shut off water taps in 30 buildings: Elevated lead found, DEP says (Newark Patch)




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