Trump will now decide if N.J. has $100M to spend on replacing Newark’s lead pipes
WASHINGTON — New Jersey officials are one step away from gaining access to $100 million in federal funds they can use to help replace Newark’s lead pipes.
Legislation allowing the state to transfer funds from its Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund cleared the U.S House late Tuesday and went to President Donald Trump for his signature.
The measure was brought to the floor by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and passed without objection.
“Every American has a right to clean drinking water, but my home state of New Jersey has been the latest to discover that our outdated and deteriorating infrastructure is simply not up to the task. It is unacceptable – and a testament to the need for federal action – that Newark’s residents have been living with elevated levels of lead in their water,” said Pallone, D-6th Dist.
The U.S. Senate passed the same bill, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., by voice vote on Sept. 10.
“Every American should have access to safe, clean drinking water, and this legislation will allow New Jersey to provide Newark with substantial funding as Newark moves to rapidly replace lead service lines," said Booker, a former Newark mayor who still lives in the city.
The White House did not immediately respond when asked whether Trump would sign the bill, but Housing Secretary Ben Carson told a Senate committee Sept. 11 that the administration would “do what is necessary” to help the city through its water crisis.
The measure would help the state cover some of the $132 million cost of replacing the lead water lines in Newark, as well as provide financial help to other municipalities.
“Federal funds exist to help communities like those in New Jersey, but for some states, that funding is constrained from being used to address lead contamination," Pallone said.
Newark has faced elevated lead levels in its drinking water since 2017, and Mayor Ras Baraka called for replacing all of the city’s 18,000 old lead pipes. The city began distributing bottled water in August after tests showed unhealthy amounts of lead in two of three tested homes despite the use of filters.