New bottled water arrives in New Jersey amid lead crisis, 20K cases had old best by dates

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Gov. Murphy visits Newark amid ongoing lead water crisis
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Anthony Johnson has the latest on the water situation from Newark.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Governor Phil Murphy and Mayor Ras Baraka will be in Newark Wednesday morning to address the lead water crisis in the city.

Amid concerns about lead in water and filters that may not be working, it turns out the bottled water the city handed out as a response was past its best use date of May 30, 2019.

The city temporarily paused water distribution Tuesday while officials waited for a new shipment of water from the State of New Jersey.

The first shipment of water had a best by date that had passed, but the state believed it was still safe to drink.

The state replaced those 20,000 cases with new water and ordered 50,000 additional cases.

Before workers started handing out the new bottles of water at 3 p.m. Tuesday, there was already a line of nearly 100 people waiting outside a local recreation center.

"This is a slap in the face to the residents of the city of Newark," said resident Donna Jackson. "As you can see everybody is standing in line. We are now in panic mode in this city because the feds had to come in to tell us to stop drinking the water."

The state has been providing water from its emergency stockpile to the City of Newark to distribute to residents. The state procures the water bottles through a private vendor.

Crystal Rosa, the press secretary for the city of Newark, released the following statement:

"Out of an abundance of caution, the City arranged for a shipment of new water. The water that the City received had a best by date that was past due. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that there is no limit to the shelf life of bottled water as long as it is properly produced and unopened. The FDA does not require an expiration date bottled water, and some companies use best by dates to manage stock rotation."

Governor Phil Murphy and Mayor Ras Baraka will tour one of the water distribution sites Wednesday afternoon and angry residents will rally at City Hall Wednesday night.

Over the weekend officials announced tests on the water in Newark indicated there were still dangerous levels of lead and residents were urged to avoid drinking tap water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it's important residents in homes with old lead pipes use bottled water until there is a reliable solution.

The city distributed water filters to 19,000 homes last fall and recently decided to conduct tests on the effectiveness of the filters.

The EPA said filters distributed to Newark homes to protect residents from elevated levels of lead may not be working as intended.

The city hosted a virtual town hall on Facebook Live Tuesday night to update people on the lead service lines and water distribution.

New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley, who represents Union County, has started a bottled water collection in several cities to help Newark residents.