Newark to Offer Water Filters for Lead Contamination—but Many Residents May Remain at Risk

Citizen Action Drove Newark to Respond, but City Must Do More to Protect Most Vulnerable

NEWARK – More than a year after community groups alerted the City of Newark that it had failed to respond to lead contamination in drinking water, today city officials are announcing plans to offer free water filters to residents with lead service lines.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a safe drinking water lawsuit with the Newark Education Workers (NEW Caucus) against the City of Newark in June. That litigation is ongoing.

The following is a statement from Erik Olson, Senior Director for Health and Food at NRDC

“The city’s promise to provide its residents with filters is a direct result of Newark’s citizens taking a stand to protect their health and the health of their community. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Newark’s water has some of the highest lead levels of any big city in the nation. They have known for more than a year, yet they’ve told residents it’s safe to drink. Providing water filters to those with lead service lines is an important step forward, but today’s action will not protect many of the people most at risk from lead exposure, including pregnant women and young children who may have high lead levels but don’t have known lead service lines.

Given Newark’s track record of delay, denial and failure to properly inform the public of the threat from lead in Newark’s drinking water, it is important that residents hold city officials accountable to a legally enforceable timetable of action.


Newark’s drinking water has some of the highest lead levels of any big city in the nation. Yet, the city has denied residents’ drinking water is contaminated with lead and repeatedly misled the public about the dangers of drinking unfiltered tap water for much of the last year. As recently as last month, Newark told its residents that the city’s water was safe, ignoring months of its own data that say otherwise.

On top of that, residents’ requests for water testing have repeatedly gone unanswered. And although filters were provided after lead was found in Newark’s public schools back in 2016, those filters have not been adequately maintained.

Over the last 18 months of consecutive action level exceedances in the city, Newark has not adequately informed residents of the risks they may face, and the steps they can take to prevent exposure, as required by law.

For more information about the safe drinking water lawsuit against Newark, see NRDC’s website: Newark’s Drinking Water Crisis.



The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization witha more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​