Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) will introduce two pieces of legislation on Thursday in response to notification of elevated levels of lead found in the water sourced by Trenton Water Works.
Benson noted that letters were sent to all 64,000 Trenton Water Works customers in Trenton, Hamilton, Lawrence, and Ewing last week with recommendations and steps to reduce lead in their drinking water, however, notification was not provided to officials in the affected municipalities.
Benson’s first measure would require that any water works system that fails lead testing at any level must notify the municipalities and their school districts so that they may begin emergency management as necessary. More specifically, if the water system has lead levels above the action level, municipalities must be provided with information on what areas of the given system were tested and where elevated lead levels are found.
The other measure Benson plans to introduce would allow municipalities to request funding from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in order to reimburse their residents the cost of water testing from a DEP certified laboratory.
“While I am glad that Trenton Water Works is taking appropriate steps to identify the source of corrosion in their systems, I firmly believe that that the Department of Environmental Protection guidelines for notification are in need of revision” said Benson. “Our residents deserve assistance in covering the high costs of testing and greater transparency can only keep the people of New Jersey safer and healthier. We cannot expect families to wait six months for a resample with the potential of continual lead exposure.”
Under the Lead and Copper Rule, water systems are required to periodically test drinking water at customer taps. If lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 parts per billion in more than 10 percent of customer taps sampled, the system must take certain steps to prevent and control corrosion. However, the actual locations tested are confidential and not publicly available. Although in this situation the Lead and Copper Rule requires that a utility send a letter to all of their customers within sixty days of the monitoring period, this rule does not require that the utility cover the cost of testing for its customers, nor are there currently public funds to assist homeowners.