Schaer & Mukherji Bill Requiring Public Water Systems of Informing Customers of Lead in Water Clears Full Assembly

To keep New Jersey’s drinking water safe and to protect the lives of residents across the state, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer and Raj Mukherji requiring public water systems to provide customers with certain information regarding lead in drinking water was approved by the full Assembly Thursday by a vote of 76-0.

“Clean drinking water should be an unabated, fundamental right in the most developed country on the planet,” said Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This bill will help ensure that our state’s residents will be provided with the clean water they are more than deserving of, and will hold public water systems owners and operators accountable for their product.”

The bill (A-4772), titled the “Lead Education, Accountability and Disclosure Act,” would require public water systems to include information on lead in drinking water in their annual Consumer Confidence Reports, which are mandated annually by the federal “Safe Drinking Water Act,” also known as a drinking water quality report provided to customers of public water systems.

Additionally, under the bill, within 90 days after beginning water service to a new customer, the owner or operator of a public water system would be required to send the customer a notice, in writing, unless requested electronically by the customer, containing information on the possible sources of lead in drinking water, including, but not necessarily limited to, lead service lines, pipes and fixtures; the health effect of lead in drinking water; and measures the customer can take to reduce or eliminate lead in tap water.

“Transparency, especially with regards to public health, is one of the most important aspects of a thriving society,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill provides transparency for our residents, which will serve as a resource for each and every New Jerseyan to ensure safe drinking water for them and their families.”

The bill also requires owners and operators of public water systems to notify customers of any construction, maintenance, repair or replacement of any lead service line or lead water main at least 48 hours prior to service.

In this notice would include:

  • Notification that the planned work may loosen lead-containing particles and temporarily increase lead levels in the water;
  • The estimated length of time that lead levels may remain elevated;
  • General information on the possible sources of lead in drinking water and the health effects of consuming lead-contaminated water;
  • Measures residents can take to reduce or eliminate their exposure to lead in drinking water; and
  • A recommendation that any lead service line serving the property be fully replaced and a list of available resources to assist in any replacement.

The bill awaits action in the Senate.