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Water Service Lines

 

What is a water service line and who owns it?

Water service lines are the pipes that carry water from the City’s pipes in the street into homes/buildings. The water service lines in Newark are owned by the individual property owners, from the water main in the street to the meter in the home. A full lead service line replacement involves elimination of all lead pipe between the water main in the street and the water meter in your house.

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How do I know if I have a lead service line at my location?

You can visually inspect the water service line piping entering and inside your home. Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft and you can easily scratch them with a key or coin. If a pipe is made of lead, the area scratched will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument, and be careful not to puncture a hole in the pipe.

You can purchase an EPA-approved lead test kit at www.epa.gov/lead/lead-test-kits

You can also contact the Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities at (973) 733-6303 or email waterandsewer@ci.newark.nj.us to request an inspection.

Where can I get more information?

Review this website's information and helpful links or contact us directly. You can also contact City of Newark Department of Health & Community Wellness at 1-800-734-7083 if you have any other concerns or questions.

About the Lead Service Line Replacement Program

 

What is the Lead Service Line Replacement Program?

Due to the June 2017 lead action level exceedance, the City is required to annually replace (at the property owner’s expense) 7 % of the initially identified lead services lines in the system. We have a plan and multi-year program with the goal of removing all the remaining lead service lines in our water system. The first phase of this program will be conducted over the next two years. The program is anticipated to have a total duration of 8 years to remove 15,000 lead services lines at a cost of approximately $60 million.

How did locations get selected for the first phase of this program?

Locations were selected based on proximity to known high lead results, known areas with higher at-risk populations such as children, minimizing disruption to the existing water system and within funding limitations.

If my lead service line is not scheduled to be replaced during the current phase of the program, when will it be replaced?

The City has a plan and multi-year program with the goal of removing all the remaining lead service lines in our water system within the next eight (8) years. Locations for lead service line replacements in subsequent phases of the City’s multi-year program will be determined at the beginning of each phase.

What should I do if I have not received a letter?

If you have not yet received a letter but suspect you have a lead service line, you should receive a invitation in a later phase of the program. If you aren't sure whether you have a lead service line, contact the City at waterandsewer@ci.newark.nj.us or (973) 733-6303 to request an inspection for material verification.

How much will the replacement cost?

The City is awaiting funding from the State, however, the cost is anticipated to be no more than $1,000 to the homeowner. Financing can be set up with the City to pay over a 12 month period at 0% interest. Outside of this program, the cost to replace a service line will typically range from $3,000 to $7,000.

Why did I previously have to pay to have my privately-owned portion of my lead service line replaced?

The City is receiving funding from the State that provides the opportunity to fully replace the entire lead service line at a discounted rate to customers. This will get more lead out of the water system for the benefit of all our customers.

I received a notice to have my lead service line replaced – what should I do?

If you recently received a notification to have your lead service line replaced, please complete the form provided with the letter, submit an online form, call (973) 733-6303, or email info@newarkleadserviceline.com.

The City has contracted with the engineering firm CDM Smith Inc. to oversee and manage the current phase of the program. The project will be bid to local contractors. 

Representatives of these firms will contact you to review and discuss the work to be performed, obtain your permission to perform the work, arrange for a preconstruction survey of the areas where your service line will be replaced, and schedule the work.

What should I do after my lead service line is replaced?

The disruption to your service to remove and replace your lead service can temporarily affect your water quality, including increasing lead levels for a short time because the pipes have been disturbed.

After an initial flush of the replaced service line is completed by the contractor, remove the faucet aerators from all cold water taps in the home and fully open the water taps throughout the home for 30 minutes, starting at the lowest level. Be sure to include bathtubs and showers. When the last cold water tap on the highest level has flushed for 30 minutes, turn off each tap starting from the highest level of the home.

Always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.

Regularly change or clean out all faucet screens and aerators. Contact the Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities at (973) 733-6303 or email waterandsewer@ci.newark.nj.us to get your water tested after replacement of your lead service line.

Lead in Drinking Water

 

How can lead get into my drinking water?

When water leaves the City’s water treatment plant, it is lead free. The water mains in the street that transport water from the treatment plant are made mostly of iron and steel, and do not add lead to the drinking water.

Lead can get into drinking water from the plumbing inside your home or the service line between the street and your home. When water sits in the service line or your home plumbing without being used for several hours, the lead may dissolve into the water. For example, these time periods include when the water is first drawn in the morning or in the afternoon after not being used all day.

If my lead service line is replaced, will all of the lead from in my drinking water be removed?

No. If you live in a home that was built prior to 1986, it is possible that lead solder was used at the joints of your interior piping. If you suspect that you have lead solder based on the age of your home, flush your water for approximately 1 to 3 minutes when the water system has not been used for more than 6 hours.

Why does the water service line or plumbing fixtures at my location contain lead?

Lead was commonly used for water service lines until the 1950s, and also commonly used in household plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) and solder into the late 1980s, when it was banned. From 1986 to 2014, plumbing fixtures could contain up to 8% lead to be categorized as, “Lead free”. However, current standards for “Lead free” fixtures allow no more than 0.25% of lead content.

Many homes and buildings, especially those built before 1989, may have service lines and/or internal plumbing and fixtures that are made of or contain lead.

What are the risks of lead exposure?

Lead can cause health problems, such as damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys when people are exposed to it. Pregnant woman, infants, and young children are especially at risk.

What level of lead is safe to consume?

No level of lead is considered safe for consumption.

What is the City doing to lower lead levels in drinking water?

The City of Newark is committed to providing you with safe, clean drinking water and lowering lead levels at the tap by:

  • Treating the water at our Pequannock Water Treatment Plant to make it less corrosive to minimize lead getting into the drinking water from lead service lines and plumbing fixtures.
  • Regularly sampling and testing the drinking water to monitor lead levels in accordance with all federal and state safety standards.
  • Removing and replacing lead service lines throughout the City.

Can I get my water tested for lead?

Please contact the City of Newark Department of Water & Sewer Utilities at (973) 733-6303 or by email at waterandsewer@ci.newark.nj.us to find out how to get your water tested for lead and or a service line inspection for free.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Signs of repeated lead exposure may include abdominal pain or cramps, aggressive behavior, constipation, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia and kidney dysfunction.

In children, long-term lead exposure can lead to intellectual disability and loss of developmental skills.

A high dose of lead poisoning may result in severe abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting, muscle weakness, stumbling when walking, seizures, coma and brain disease.

More information is available at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/

Can I get tested for exposure to lead?

Contact your doctor or local health care provider about a blood test for lead exposure or contact the Newark Department of Health & Community Wellness at 1-800-734-7083

How can I reduce my exposure to lead?

Replace your lead service line. Complete the online registration form to have your line replaced under this program.

Always buy plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) that have zero- or low-lead content. Read the labels of any new plumbing fixtures closely.

Run your cold water tap to flush out lead. Run the tap until water feels cold. Then fill a pitcher with fresh water and place in the refrigerator for future use.

Always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.

Do not boil water for the purpose of removing lead. Boiling water does not remove lead and can increase lead concentration in water.

Periodically remove and clean faucet screens and aerators.

Obtain an NSF Certified home water treatment device that is certified to remove lead.

Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead and any copper piping with lead solder.

Water service lines are sometimes used to ground electrical lines. The wiring in your home or building may be attached to your water service line or elsewhere in your plumbing. If you have a lead service line, this can accelerate its corrosion. Have a licensed electrician check your wiring.

Be careful of dust from lead based paint. Even though lead based paint was outlawed in 1978, many older homes have not removed it and may currently be a hazard. The most common source of lead exposure is generated in the homes from the dust of lead based paint.

Be careful of other sources of lead in your home. Some household items such as pottery, makeup, toys, and jewelry may contain lead. Wash your children’s hands and toys often.