CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he’s stepping up efforts to help Newark deal with its ongoing water lead contamination crisis, and he’s not the only one. Frustrated Newark residents have been dealing with expired bottled water on top of the lead crisis that’s contaminated some of the city’s water supply.
But clean drinking water problems extend far beyond Newark in the Garden State, and some lawmakers say residents deserve better.
“They should only be concerned that the water is safe,” New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney said.
On Wednesday morning, Sweeney and several colleagues called on the governor’s administration to do a better job enforcing water quality standards.
Back in 2017, when numerous school districts from Trenton to Rowan University were dealing with lead problems in their waters systems, New Jersey lawmakers passed the Clean Water Accountability Act. It called for higher standards in monitoring and alleviating contamination.
But two years later, Sweeney and those who helped pass the act say it’s not being properly enforced.
“We want this state to be one of the first states in the country that we can certify that every water system will have safe, reliable, clean drinking water,” Sweeney said.
State senators announced they will hold a series of hearings about why towns are under-reporting the results of water-quality testing and how to spend tax dollars when contamination issues are identified.
One area that will get special attention is how communities of color, be it Newark, Trenton or even Camden, are disproportionately effected by poor water quality.
“The aging infrastructure that we see in our water delivery systems, there’s a larger emphasis on that in some of our urban areas,” state Sen. Troy Singleton said.