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New Jersey notifies 186,000 buildings, homes drinking water comes through lead pipes

Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE

(TRENTON, N.J.) — New Jersey announced Thursday it is notifying nearly 200,000 homes and businesses that they are receiving drinking water from service lines contaminated with lead, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The announcement came on the heels of the state’s Lead Service Line Replacement law, which was enacted in July 2021. The law calls for the replacement of these service lines by 2031.

The 186,830 known lead service lines identified by the DEP feed into buildings all over the state, officials said.

A map on the DEP’s website allows residents to enter their addresses and see if they are affected.

Service lines are the portion of a pipe that connect a water main to a building inlet and therefore could be serving multiple units within a property and could be serving both residential and commercial properties, according to the New Jersey DEP. Therefore, the total number of people affected is unknown.

New Jersey alone has almost 3,500 drinking water systems, Shawn LaTourette, the state environmental commissioner, said Thursday.

“There is no safe level of lead in drinking water or elsewhere,” LaTourette said. “We have to eliminate it where we find it, period.”

“It poses a significant threat, particularly to our children” LaTourette added.

Water systems were required by the new law to notify residents no later than Monday if their drinking water was coming from one of the identified lead service lines.

Water systems submit inventories of the lead service lines in their service areas to the DEP, most recently in January.

According to the DEP, homes and buildings constructed before 1988 must determine if interior lead solder or lead pipes are present.

The DEP also said that those notified they have a lead service line need to replace it in full, from main to home.

Until the lines are replaced, residents are encouraged to let the water run from the tap for about 15 to 30 seconds to flush out the lead.

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