#TSRUpdatez: The mayor of Newark, New Jersey is speaking out about the city’s water and he says it’s not worse than Flint, Michigan.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Newark’s water was cited for elevated levels of lead, and in response officials started an urgent giveaway of over 40,000 water filters.

“Newark is not anywhere near Flint at all,” Mayor Ras Baraka said in a video posted on the City of Newark NJ’s YouTube page. “In Flint, they purposely stopped using the corrosion control inhibitor in their water. They just stopped. They made a decision to not use the inhibitor, out of guidelines and out of compliance.”

He added that Newark has never been out of compliance in terms of regulations and testing. “The problem in Newark is that our corrosion control inhibitor stopped working, it ceased to work. It was no purposeful and deliberate reason to stop using the corrosion control inhibitor. Like they did in Flint, they did it very purposefully to save money for the city. That is exactly what they did. That is not what happened at all. Ours stopped working because of the ph balance in the water changed. After 20 years the same effective chemical we had been using over a 20 period, it stopped being effective.”

In a statement, Mayor Baraka said the city is going the extra mile for the residents. “The Safe Drinking Water Act does not require Newark to provide filters for its residents – but Newark is doing so,” he said. “The Safe Drinking Water Act does not require Newark to secure state funding to help its residents pay for replacing their lead service lines – but Newark is doing so.”

As we previously reported, there was “ample evidence that the city was facing a public health crisis that had echoes of the one in Flint, Michigan,” according to The New York Times. However, the city insisted “NEWARK’S WATER IS ABSOLUTELY SAFE TO DRINK” on their website. According to state data, elevated levels of lead were reported in Newark’s tap water for three consecutive six-month periods since 2017.

Newark admitted that there may be a growing public health crisis over its tap water after the results of a new study were released last month. “Officials were finally compelled to act after an engineering study commissioned by the city found that measures to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water were failing at one of Newark’s two treatment plants,” the New York Times reported. “State officials are warning that children under 6 in homes with lead pipes served by the plant should not drink unfiltered tap water.”

In a press release, Mayor Baraka listed the below key differences between Newark and Flint’s water situation.

1) Public officials in Flint, Michigan, chose to switch to a different water source, to
rely on a water treatment plant with known mechanical and operational deficiencies, and
to discontinue corrosion control treatment. Newark’s corrosion control grew less
effective in recent years in the Pequannock treatment area for multiple reasons, including
a shift in the pH of the water, not through any choice; corrosion control is now being

(2) Flint water had a variety of other problems, including widespread water main
breaks and elevated levels of bacteria prompting Boil Water Advisories. Newark’s water
does not have these problems; it just needs corrosion control improvements, which are

(3) US Environmental Protection Agency found that public officials in Flint and at
the state oversight agency had not fully implemented the Lead and Copper Rule and
ignored rule violations and lead level elevations; Newark has been in full compliance.
(4) US EPA found that oversight of drinking water law in Michigan languished; New
Jersey is an attentive and energetic regulator.

(5) Newark is getting ahead of problems by going far beyond what the law requires in
distributing filters and securing state funding to replace private lead service lines.

#Roommates, we will keep you posted as more details on the situation are released.

TSR STAFF: Myeisha E.! @myeisha.essex

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