Testimonial on Contaminated Lead Water in Newark
The Health Committee of the Newark City Council
I write to you as a resident of Newark. I am a nursing student and currently at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. I am in my senior year of study and have learnt that patients may exhibit symptomatic signs and other neuropsychiatric problems with other adverse effect related to water contamination. I wish to raise concerns about the escalated lead levels in drinking water for the residents of the City of Newark, which has reached a crisis point. Studies of other cities with lead in their water predict that the rate of neurological disorders on adults and growth retardation in children is set to escalate to unprecedented levels (Wani, Ara, & Usmani, 2015). I request for your expedited response to the matter and support to the environment-water supply bill A676, which is set to be discussed in the Senate and General Assembly.
Lead water contamination has severe health consequences for the exposed population. The city management confirms that higher lead contamination in sampled drinking water is evident, but lays the blame on lead pipes, which are properties of homeowners. Hence, the intervention plan is to provide remedial water filters to the affected residents (Muoio & Sutton, 2018). It is sad that children and infants less than six years who are consuming reconstituted formula are the most affected population. There is a looming health crisis in the City of Newark where there are more than 1,200 individuals are affected by lead contamination (Muoio & Sutton, 2018). I commend your effort to remedy the situation by encouraging health facilities to collect blood samples of children under six years for testing every year. This is an important approach that will help to monitor and manage the situation and provide a better forum for health follow-ups.
The environment-water supply bill A676 is currently set for discussion and enactment by the Senate and General Assembly of the State 5 of New Jersey. The bill, which is sponsored by Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey of District 27, representing Essex and Morris, Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy of District 7 representing Burlington, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji of District 33, representing Hudson, seeks to involve the participation of higher learning institutions to control lead contamination. I wish to render my support for the bill and provide expert advice from a medical perspective on the positive impact of the act to the resident of the general Essex County. I also solicit for your support for the bill as it progressively addresses current and future challenges of lead leaching.
The City of Newark has made considerable efforts to ensure that residents have access to clean and safe drinking water. Although the city insists that: “its water is absolutely safe to drink and is some of the best water in the state of New Jersey” (Muoio & Sutton, 2018), I am concern on this matter because some regulatory organizations have found that the drinking water in the City of Newark is contaminated with lead. Therefore, Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities are culpable and should take responsibility for the health dilemma emanating from lead contamination.
The mission of the Newark Department of Water and Sewer utilities is “To serve a continuous supply of safe, high quality and good tasting water for the City of Newark. We pledge, as funding and staffing allow, to protect the utility investments by ensuring and maintaining the integrity and security of the City of Newark’s water and sewer infrastructure” (Water and Sewer Utilities, 2018). My opinion on lead contamination is that the department has failed to maintain the integrity of Newark’s water and the commitment to its mission statement thereby exposes residents to significant health dangers. In addition, resident who lease houses fixed with lead pipes before 1986 do not have prior information about possible lead leaching in their drinking water to make a critical choice regarding occupancy.
The environment-water supply bill A676 is a progressive attempt to manage lead contamination in drinking water. As the bill is set for enactment, I believe that it should introduce supplementary actors into the water sector to maintain quality standards. The involvement of higher learning institutions should accelerate the uptake of courses related to water management to enhance professionalism in water discipline. The bill allows colleges, as centers of professional excellence, to collaborate with water providers, thereby enhancing openness and improving access to information for public benefit. Involving higher learning institutions to test the water and schedule temporary closure to contaminated pipes will also provide an opportunity to ascertain the exact point with lead contamination. In addition, the approach will allow objective investigations to address issues, such as replacements of lead pipes and plumbing works among other initiatives rather than the current generalized approach taken by the city.
The bill allows the institutions of higher education to conduct tests in certified laboratories within approved states, as provided by the department of environmental protection. I support this position since it is through such a certified laboratories tests that the failure of the city’s lead corrosion control chemicals into drinking water was revealed. Accordingly, the act will enhance the investigation of appropriate water chemistry of lead toxicity management. My research findings reveal that several residents have inadequate information about lead leaching and the impacts of consuming lead-contaminated water. Therefore, by posting test results on university websites, students will access such information and share it with parents and benefactors among other stakeholders to create awareness in the society.
I am sure that you all agree that access to clean and safe water is a right for every citizen. Enhancing stakeholder interest in the water infrastructure will manage occasional integrity issues that may arise. Further, the initiative will protect the future of the city by protecting children, especially those who depend on the reconstituted formula. Therefore, it is imperative that the bill is passed and enacted to avoid further damage in Newark and its environs. I believe that by working towards reducing the possibility of lead water contamination to 15 parts per billion which is the federal limits. With safe drinking water, heart problems and neurological disorder in adults, growth retardation in children, fetal deaths, and underweight infants at birth will be reduced significantly in the City of Newark. Accordingly, I request you to support the enactment of NJ Bill A676 to manage challenges of water contamination in the City of Newark. I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss my apprehension, and I look forward to a response from your office. I will also make a follow up in two weeks with your office.