New Jersey has announced an ambitious plan to replace all of its aging lead-lined water pipes in the next ten years.
The state also wants to help residents rid their homes of lead-based paint, which is the leading cause of lead poisoning.
“It’s a problem that’s been handed to us by years — and in some cases, by generations — of inaction. Well, this is our time for action,” said Gov. Phil Murphy during a Thursday press conference.
It came the same day as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would require more testing for the harmful heavy metal, but give water utilities longer to replace lead service lines, the pipes that run between water mains and homes.
Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and is especially harmful to children and pregnant women.
To pay for his proposal, Murphy said he would put a $500 bond proposal to voters in the 2020 election. He added that water utilities would likely have to raise rates too.
Residents in Newark recently had a lead poisoning scare after tests in two homes showed elevated lead levels. Subsequent tests found that lead levels across the city were much lower, but the episode brought the issue back into focus in the public conversation.