Mayor Ras Baraka Examines Newark's Lead Water Crisis

Steve Adubato sits down with Ras J. Baraka, Mayor, City of Newark, to examine Newark’s lead water crisis and the measures being taken to provide safe water across the city moving forward.

9/28/2019 #320






"We are honored to be joined by the mayor of the great city of Newark, Ras Baraka. Good to see you Mayor. Good to be here. The issue that we need to talk about, that everyone's talking about, is the Newark Public... excuse me, the Newark water situation. As succinctly as possible, what is the problem? And how did it get to be where it is? Well, the City of Newark has older homes that have service lines that bring water into their homes, that are made out of lead. The service lines are actually owned by the homeowner. They have to be removed. They've been there for centuries. You know. Maybe 25-30 years ago, the city began putting corrosion control in the water to stop the lead from coming from the pipes and getting into the water. It began to fail. Somewhere around 2017 or so, it began to fail. And so when we got proof that it was absolutely failing... Proof by whom? The EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency. So the federal government directly involved? Yes. So we do all the testing. So there's this characterization that people come and test our water. We do all the testing. And... The city does? The city. And then we report what we find. So we reported high levels of lead. We couldn't explain why we were getting high levels of lead in the beginning, so we cut a pipe out of the ground and sent it to the EPA. The EPA scientists looked at it and told us that the corrosion control was failing. Hmm. And that we had to get a new corrosion control. In '17? They told us in 2018 that it was failing. So where do the filters come in? Sorry for jumping... 2018. We started getting our filters. Explain the water filters. They're not city water filters? They're put out by a manufacturer? Right. They... by PUR water company. PUR filter company. Excuse me. Who manufactures filters for people all over the country. The world, for that matter. People use them everywhere. They're NSF certified. They were approved by the EPA. We put 39,000 of them out. We started in October, 2018. We did three tests, and found two of them were not working to the capacity that we thought they should work to... Mayor, sorry for interrupting. Why only three? Because that number confused me, and I'm sure a lot of other people? Yeah. Because it wasn't a formal, what, kind of test. Right? To test filters. What we were actually testing was the new orthophosphate that we were actually putting in the water. Right? So we were testing that, to come in one end and come out the other end. So we tested a home in the North Ward, one in the South, and one..."