New Jersey water providers may have to document what pipes have lead

DPH warns Lewes levels about lead levels. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

DPH warns Lewes levels about lead levels. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Lead that gets into drinking water from old water pipes can cause serious health problems.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would help assess the extent of that hazard.

A bill advanced by an Assembly committee would require public water systems to submit a list of lead service lines in their distribution system to the Department of Environmental Protection.

That’s an important step, said Chris Sturm with New Jersey Future.

“It would set New Jersey communities on the path to understanding where those lead service lines are, cost estimates for how to replace them,” said Sturm. “It would also empower homeowners to know what they’re dealing with.”

Henry Gajda with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters said the legislation is a turning point the state.

“Not only will this bill strongly repudiate the lackluster actions that have allowed this problem to persist,” he said. “It showcases our commitment to reducing environmental health injustices and moving New Jersey toward a future of health communities and clean water.”

Within 24 months after enactment of the legislation, the DEP would be required to submit a report to the governor and the Legislature with recommendations for new policies to deal with the lead problem.

Replacing the aging water infrastructure could cost billions of dollars.

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