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Newark Water Challenge

Like many cities and towns across New Jersey, and America, Newark is plagued by aging infrastructure. This includes approximately 18,000 privately-owned lead service lines that connect city water into homes. In 2018, Newark received an official finding that the corrosion control introduced into the water to keep lead from flaking off of lead service lines was no longer effective in one of its reservoirs – the Pequannock. This impacts roughly 15,000 households in the City.

There is a short, mid, and long-term plan of action that the City has been following since 2018:

In the short-term, 38,000 Pur water filters were distributed free of charge to residents in October 2018. In August 2019, the City and the Department of Environmental Protection conducted testing and found that in two of three homes, the Pur water filters were not removing lead from the water. While this was too small of a sample size to make a definitive conclusion about whether or not the filters are effective, in an abundance of caution, the City started to provide all potentially impacted residents with bottled water and established four distribution sites.

In the mid-term, a new corrosion control treatment was introduced into the Pequannock in Spring 2019, and will take up to 8 months to fully optimize.

For the long-term, the City of Newark created a Lead Service Line Replacement Program in partnership with the State of New Jersey and the Essex County Improvement Authority that will replace every lead service line in the city at no charge to residents within three years.

The Newark community is working in collaboration to support impacted residents throughout this process.


Ways to Help

While there is a clear plan to fix this issue over time, and as the City works aggressively with State and Federal officials on our water quality, there are immediate needs. Here are some ways to help:

  • Contribute money to support impacted residents – The City of Newark partnered with the United Way of Essex West Hudson (UWEWH) to create a Water Fund. 100% of funds raised from individuals, corporations, and foundations is being used to address community needs during Newark’s water challenge. Contributions may be made on the UWEWH website and also via AT&T’s Text-To-Give campaign which is open to wireless customers of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular.
  • Make a direct donation of water – The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is accepting direct contributions of water on behalf of the City.
  • Volunteer time and resources – The City is creating opportunities for volunteers to support its outreach to residents. Access to wraparound resources like lead testing and healthy food are also needed.
  • Support for communications – It is important that residents, small business owners, and the whole Newark stakeholder community have the right facts related to Newark water. Community education is important now and well into the future.

To support these efforts, please contact Kevin Callaghan, Office of Newark Philanthropic Liaison, a partnership between the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and the City of Newark.

To learn more about impacted households and the service line replacement program, please visit the City of Newark’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program website.


As a reminder for funders, CNJG and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy co-created the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook to help funders be more strategic in their investments helping with recovery for different aspects of your affected community.


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