Newark Residents’ Resolve to Secure Safe Drinking Water Drove City’s Lead Pipe Replacement Success

Newark is a national model for other cities trying to get lead water pipes out of the ground

NEW YORK – Vice President Kamala Harris and other officials are meeting in Newark, NJ today to celebrate the removal of lead service lines from the city’s drinking water system and the enactment of the federal infrastructure law that includes $15 billion for lead service line removals nationwide.

The following is a reaction from Mitch Bernard, Chief Counsel at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):

“Newark’s historic accomplishment would not have been possible without the dogged and heroic resolve of a group of public school teachers and community members, who refused to settle for anything less than safe drinking water for the children of Newark. The community’s drive, combined with laborers’ skill and the city’s determination to get the job done quickly, has set a new standard for cities trying to replace toxic lead pipes.

“Lead has plagued our nation for more than a century, but by removing all its lead water pipes at no cost to residents, Newark demonstrates we are within reach of fixing this curse, making generations of children healthier. 

“Our vision is that every family in the country will be able to drink water free from lead contamination. Funding from the new federal infrastructure law, plus we hope additional resources from the Build Back Better Act and a strengthened EPA Lead and Copper Rule can make this dream a reality.” 


Alarmed by high levels of lead in Newark’s drinking water, and after repeated unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue without litigation, the Newark Education Workers (NEW) Caucus and NRDC filed a citizen suit against the City of Newark and New Jersey state officials in June 2018 to secure safe drinking water for Newark residents; a settlement was reached in January, 2021. No money damages were sought—just a solution. See more at

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with 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.

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