Aug. 12 (UPI) — The City of Newark handed out bottles of water to residents on Monday after the Environmental Protection Agency determined water filters failed to reduce elevated levels of lead in drinking water.
City officials distributed 247 pallets of water to residents while launching an investigation into why two out of three homes where city-issued water filters were tested showed the devices weren’t removing the expected amount of lead from the water.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to New Jersey EPA Commissioner Catherine McCabe and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka directing them to provide citizens with bottled water to drink due to the results of the tests.
“The data suggests that use of specific filtration devices distributed by Newark may not be reliably effective, in this particular situation, in reducing lead concentrations to below that standard,” the EPA said. “This means that we are unable at this time to assure Newark residents that their health is fully protected when drinking tap water filtered through these devices.”
Baraka and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a joint statement on Sunday announcing the city would distribute bottled water to residents with lead service lines.
About 14,000 households are eligible to receive bottled water.
“Bottled water will be available while we continue to conduct extensive testing and sample and analyze the data,” they wrote.
McCabe responded to the EPA on Monday, asking the agency to fund the bottled water distribution and stating the request to distribute water to residents was given “without advance warning.”