NEWARK, N.J. — In his state of the city address Tuesday night, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said there is nothing wrong with Newark water, but there is something wrong with the city’s infrastructure.
However, PIX11 has learned the city of Newark”s Housing Authority is testing water at its properties for lead. While officials say there have been no problems or issues, the agency decided to take a pro-active measure and began testing on Monday and is still in the process of doing so. Results are expected as early as next week.
Mayor Baraka’s office maintains city water was never an issue and that in fact, the city regularly tests its drinking water at 50 different sample points throughout the city. Water at Housing Authority buildings are being checked because, like schools, buildings are aging while water flowing in is believed to be poor contamination may be occurring once the water meets the old piping.
Sixty-seven of Newark’s Public Schools have been tested for lead. Among them, 30 were identified to have trace levels of lead in their water systems. Of primary concern, are the youngest children, who will begin receiving blood tests as early as Thursday.
Most toddler aged children, according to a Newark Public Schools spokesperson, attend Early Childhood Schools, Central at Berliner and West at Old Speedway.
Newark Public Schools were on the defensive after photos showing expired water filters being used were sent to media outlets. Newark school board members said the issue was not brought to their attention until March 9th.
Rashon Hasan, a school board member since 2013 says a letter discussing water testing dating back to 2014 was circulated and did raise a few eyebrows, though he can’t say for certain if the issue was hidden from the public.
“I think the other aspect is realizing how big of an issue this is. Is this something we’re just experiencing in our schools or do we have the potential to see other cases when we start to examine the existing piping infrastructure in some of the older buildings and facilities throughout the city,” said Hasan.