30 Newark Schools Shut Down Their Lead-Contaminated Drinking Fountains

Photo: Meg Baker/CBS

You know about Flint, Michigan, but it is hardly alone. Omaha, Cleveland, Hoosick Falls, and many other primarily poor areas around the country are full of old pipes in old buildings, and too often, the water coming through them is not fit to drink. On Wednesday, Newark, New Jersey, joined that grim list, as 30 of its public schools shut down their drinking fountains over concerns about lead contamination. The school system notified the Department of Environmental Protection that it had found lead levels exceeding the legal limit (15 parts per billion) coming out of the taps during its annual tests, CBS reports. The DEP said that the contamination comes from individual building pipes, and that the city’s water supply is not contaminated en masse.  The school system is providing water coolers and other sources of potable water for drinking and food prep, and the DEP will continue testing. 

Also on Wednesday, New York senator Chuck Schumer proposed $100 million in federal grants to help schools test their water supply for lead. This comes after ten school buildings in Ithaca apparently failed their lead tests. Schumer’s proposal would make the funding available as soon as January 1; apparently a testing mandate has been in place for nearly three decades, but it has not been funded because a drafting error in the law led to its being struck down by the courts, reports the Ithaca Journal. Testing water for lead costs an average of $35 a sample, but when contamination is discovered, districts are often asked to do many more tests, as Newark is now.

Newark Schools Shut Lead-Rich Water Fountains