If a New Jersey water company or utility discovers elevated levels of lead in its drinking water supply, federal law requires the information to be given to customers within 60 days.

A plan is moving forward to speed up the process considerably.

“We want an expedited notice that goes out no later than 10 days after the end of the monitoring period whenever that water system exceeds lead-action levels,” said State Senator Troy Singleton, the sponsor of a measure to speed up the notification process.

He said all customers need to know as quickly as possible if lead levels in a water supply go higher than the federal standard of 15 parts per billion “inclusive of schools, day care centers, local health agencies, municipalities that are located within the service area of that public water system.”

He said the legislation also stipulates “landlords have to provide tenants with any notice or information as it relates to the presence of lead in their drinking water.”

He said under current law, a landlord is not specifically required to share the information about lead in the water with tenants — and many times that information has not been passed along.

Singleton said notices, in addition to informing customers more quickly about higher levels of lead that were detected, would also explain the monitoring tests that a water company or utility was performing, where the lead might be coming from (usually from older water pipes) and "what the health effects are of lead in the drinking water."

"And it would also, I think most importantly, explain measures the customer could take to help reduce or eliminate lead in their drinking water," Singleton said.

He said because many parts of New Jersey have older water system systems, “we have to step up, not just with the notification, but also move forward to look at how we address the water infrastructure and make sure everyone has the clean water they are rightfully entitled to.”

The New Jersey Department of Health has warned even minute amounts of lead in drinking water can cause serious harm to normal brain development in young children.

Several New Jersey cities, including Newark and Trenton, have begun multi-billion dollar projects to replace older lead lined pipes in their water systems that are leaching lead into drinking water supplies.

The New Jersey State Senate has unanimously approved the measure to require customers to be alerted if water samples are found to have elevated levels of lead within 10 days of tests showing lead contamination. In the Assembly the measure is currently being reviewed by the Environment and Solid Waste Committee.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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