Ruiz to DEP on Lead Crisis: ‘There has to be a Level of Urgency’


At this afternoon’s Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee Hearing, state Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) of Newark communicated a condition red need for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) to effectively respond to an ongoing lead contamination crisis.

Specifically, Ruiz wants a better implementation of the Water Quality Accountability Act.

“There has to be a level of urgency when it comes to these discussions,” Ruiz told DEP reps at the hearing chaired by Senator Troy Singleton (D-7). “Consider me a partner in this all-heads-on-deck [response].

“This is not an urban problem this is a town problem, a statewide issue,” the veteran Newark senator added. “The quicker we develop policies, the quicker we can find long-term solutions. …You should be the strongest voice in this conversation. There are too many lapses where there should be better policy consistency.”

The DEP is examining how to make water quality stronger in the existing act, reps told Ruiz.

The Essex County Improvement Authority will bond 120 million for the City of Newark “to use only for its pipe replacement program,” Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said last month.

“We are able to borrow money at a significantly lower rate,” said DiVincenzo, who – in the middle of ongoing political tensions in the Democratic Party – over the last number of days met with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, whom the county executive praised for addressing the lead contamination crisis.

DiVincenzo said the county is uniquely poised to help the city because it enjoys a triple A bond rating.


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