New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed legislation Thursday that will require public water systems to catalogue all lead pipes and replace them within 10 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated lead exposure in water is toxic even at low levels for adults and no safe blood level has been identified in children. The CDC has said that lead exposure in children can cause brain and nervous system damage, learning and behavior problems and slowed growth and development.
Murphy on Thursday estimated that about two-thirds of the state’s housing stock was built before 1980, and said that "the risks of lead exposure run broad," according to NorthJersey.com.
The legislation maps out how the state will go about taking inventory of the pipes and replacing them. Within the first 30 days after the bill is enacted, unknown pipes and lead water pipes need to be catalogued in an initial inventory and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection must receive that initial inventory within six months, according to The Associated Press.
Another more thorough report would be issued in a year with additional reports to come. Additionally, customers would have to be notified within 30 days of an initial inventory that their pipes contain lead, the wire service reported.
"Our goal is nothing less than having every single lead water service line across New Jersey," Murphy said on Thursday, according to NorthJersey.com.
"That's not going to just be wishful thinking. It's going to be an achievable and an affordable reality," he said. "We're going to ensure that every water service line that contains lead is properly catalogued and then removed."
It’s estimated that the lead replacements in the state will cost around $2.65 billion, and NorthJersey.com noted that Murphy has said water companies could hike up their rates as a way to finance the replacement of the pipes. The New Jersey news outlet said, however, that it could possibly be covered through federal funds.
According to the Trenton Bureau of the USA Today Network, there’s between 300,000 and 350,000 lead pipes in the state.