Feds have 'responsibility’ to help Newark pay for bottled water during lead crisis, Booker says

Updated Aug 13, 2019

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker who once led New Jersey’s largest city, co-authored a letter to the federal government on Tuesday urging “immediate assistance” for Newark as officials there distribute bottled water to protect residents from potential lead exposure.

The mass distribution of bottled water began Monday, three days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asked Newark to do so. The quick decision was based on surprising test results that showed water filters at two homes were not eliminating enough lead. About 38,000 filters have been distributed in the city.

“We urge EPA to identify additional resources to offer assistance in providing bottled water to Newark residents in order to ensure a sustained source of clean drinking water while further sampling is conducted,” Booker, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, and Reps. Albio Sires and Donald Payne, Jr. said.

Booker, a Democrat and presidential hopeful, served as Newark’s mayor from 2006-2013. Newark’s lead levels spiked in 2017 after faulty water treatment began corroding the city’s old lead pipes and flaking lead into the drinking supply.

The elected leaders’ letter echoes the words of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commission Catherine McCabe who also called on the EPA to step up. The state has provided 20,000 cases of emergency bottled water but officials say they have limited supplies and need help.

The senators and congressmen said the EPA previously said the filters were reliable and had worked to eliminated contamination risks in places such as Flint, Michigan.

“We believe you have a shared responsibility to be a part of that solution," they wrote.

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