NEWARK, NJ (STL.News) – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, alongside Mayor Ras Baraka, cabinet members, and local officials, Wednesday toured a bottled water distribution center in Newark and announced enhanced partnerships to promote access to clean water and conduct lead screenings for affected residents.
On Monday, August 12th, the State began providing bottled water to Newark for distribution to impacted residents, sourced from emergency reserves. Corporate partners, including Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi, will continue to supplement through donations.
Beginning today, University Hospital will donate five free bottles of clean water to Newark residents who are discharged from inpatient stays for the month of August. The hospital will also conduct free lead screenings for impacted residents on Saturday, August 17th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on subsequent Saturdays depending on demand. Individuals wishing to receive a screening must make an appointment at (973) 972-9000.
In addition to screenings provided by University Health, the City of Newark provides free lead screenings Monday through Friday.
“Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental right,” said Governor Murphy. “The State and City’s efforts, in tandem with University Hospital and our corporate partners, will ensure that Newark residents have access to bottled water. I urge residents – particularly pregnant woman, families with children under six, and especially those caring for infants – to access the free bottled water the City is providing.”
“Our priority is the health and welfare of all Newark residents, particularly the very young, pregnant women, and the elderly,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “Although there are only two homes where testing found that water filters are not working as expected, to be extremely cautious, we are providing bottled water to affected residents with lead service lines in their homes. We have distributed bottled water for the past two days. The City of Newark and the State of New Jersey are prepared to do everything possible to keep residents healthy.”
“Now, more than ever, it is critical that state and federal partners stand together and provide all the resources and expertise we can to help Newark protect the health of its residents, including providing an ample supply of bottled water while we work to better understand the effectiveness of filters provided to residents,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “We are extremely grateful to University Hospital and our private partners for providing important assistance as we work to address this complex challenge. We are mobilizing these efforts out of an abundance of caution to protect Newark’s residents in the short term while the city works to replace lead service lines and implement water treatment technologies that will protect public health in the long term.”
“No level of lead is acceptable for any child or pregnant woman,” said Acting Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Even low levels of lead can affect a child’s ability to achieve milestones at school. That’s why the Department of Health stands ready to support the city in addressing the health needs of its residents.”
“We stand with the State and the City of Newark, and are proud to support their efforts in providing vital resources to our community,” said Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of University Hospital in Newark. “Everyone must have access to clean and safe drinking water. University Hospital is here to help the people of Newark.”
This year, the State has provided $1.8 million in lead testing funding and $12 million to support the City of Newark’s efforts to replace lead service line replacement