Is the water coming out of the taps in your home safe to drink?

Top environmental leaders and water experts are attending a special water infrastructure conference in Trenton on Friday, Dec. 2 with the goal of promoting resilient and healthy water strategies in New Jersey.

Jersey Water Works Co-Chairman Andy Kricun said in many parts of New Jersey the water infrastructure is old “with underground water mains or sewer mains or treatment facilities or pumping facilities that are just past their useful life and need to be replaced.”

He said there are hundreds of different water utilities across the Garden State, and while some have updated piping and treatment plants, others may still be working to upgrade their systems.

llucky78 GettyImages
llucky78 GettyImages

A clear and present danger

He noted in older neighborhoods, lead piping needs to be replaced, because lead leaching into the water is dangerous.

How do you know if you are at risk?

Kricun said if you live in a house or apartment complex that was built before 1986, unless your town or city has recently replaced the water service lines leading into your home, you should assume lead could be contaminating the water supply.

He said the first thing you should do is ask your water provider to do a test to see if there are detectable levels of lead in the water, but in the meantime, when you wake up in the morning let the water run for 90 seconds before drinking it.

“It’s been sitting there for 8 hours, the lead has been leaching into that water,” he said.

Water droplet falling on water surface, close-up
John Foxx ThinkStock

The key step

Kricun said the key is to let the water run “90 seconds or so, first thing in the morning or first thing when you come home from work or school. Let the water run so you’re getting fresh water that hasn’t been sitting in the lead line.”

He pointed out another option is to get a small portable filtration unit that provides 20 to 30 cups of clean water in a holding tank.

Those kinds of units can be purchased for under $100.

The New Jersey legislature passed a measure last year that requires all water utilities to replace their older lead pipes by 2031. While some federal assistance is being provided, many towns and cities will be forced to borrow tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay for these upgrades.

Kricun noted many towns and cities in New Jersey also need to replace stormwater drainage runoff capability and expand their pumping plants to be able to withstand more severe storms.

Jersey Water Works is a collaborative initiative of New Jersey Future, focused on ensuring safe drinking water and clean waterways.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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