NJ lead pipe replacement program to begin in North Jersey

Melancholy Joe
| Paterson Press

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Newark crews go door to door in search of lead pipes

Farrad Brown, a Newark native, is one of dozens of workers going door-to-door to enroll residents in a program that aims to replace all lead plumbing in less than three years.

Stacey Barchenger, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

PATERSON — About 6,500 homes in Paterson, Passaic, Clifton and Prospect Park will receive new water mains to prevent lead poisoning, officials said Thursday.

As part of a $36 million program, the Passaic Valley Water Commission will begin replacing lead pipes that connect homes to water mains in September — at no cost to homeowners.

Jim Mueller, the commission’s executive director, said his organization had previously identified 6,500 homes with lead-contaminated pipes in those communities, about half of them in Paterson. During the summer, the commission’s contractor will begin testing the water supply lines for lead pipes in a further 11,000 homes, he added.

The commission also checked thousands of other homes and found no lead in the water pipes, officials said.

“As we all know, lead is bad,” Mueller said during a news conference at Paterson City Hall. “Contact with lead is not considered safe.”

Funding for the replacement initiative will come from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, Mueller said.

Homeowners with contaminated water lines must approve the replacement before crews can remove old pipes and install new ones, officials said. In assessing the status of service lines in the other 11,000 homes, the commission will send inspectors door-to-door to conduct inspections.

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Paterson Councilwoman Ruby Cotton, who is also a member of the Water Commission, noted during the press conference that publicity could be difficult.

“Sometimes people are very reluctant to open their doors,” she said.

Mueller said the work teams and inspectors would wear ID badges, as well as hats and vests identifying them as part of the pipe replacement program.

Mayor Andre Sayegh repeatedly stressed during the press conference that homeowners do not have to pay for the pipe replacement. Mueller said the standard price range in the private market for service line replacements was $4,000 to $5,000. But recent inflation has pushed that price as high as $10,000, he said.

Mueller said homeowners with questions could call the Water Commission at 973-340-4300 or visit the website at www.pvwc.com.

Joe Malinconico is Editor of Paterson Press. Email: [email protected]

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