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Schaer & Mukherji Bill Requiring Public Water Systems to Inform Customers of Lead in Water Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – To keep New Jersey’s drinking water safe and to protect the lives of residents across the state, legislation sponsored Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer and Raj Mukherki requiring public water systems to provide customers with certain information regarding lead in drinking water cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Monday.

“In the most developed country in the world, clean drinking water should be a basic, fundamental right,” said Schaer (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This bill will ensure that owners and operators of public water systems are accountable and transparent on the dangers of lead in drinking water.”

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 on the cleanliness of New Jersey’s drinking water, which will help us in our efforts to provide each and every New Jerseyan with uncontaminated drinking water.”

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 now heads the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.