Yesterday, Assemblyman Jamel Holley sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka calling for a formal declaration of a state of emergency over the lead crisis in the city’s water supply, and a full state takeover of the water system.
Such steps could lead to a push to privatize Newark’s water. As Mayor Baraka wrote in response, “Let me be clear about one thing: the city of Newark is not interested in turning over our water source to any outside entity.”
Food & Water Watch Water-For-All Director Mary Grant released the following statement in response to the news:
“The lead crisis in Flint was precipitated by a state takeover of the water utility, so it cannot be considered a remedy for Newark’s problems. The state should not take control away from the city’s democratically elected officials. Privatization of the water system would be similarly ineffective; one needs only to look at neighboring communities in New Jersey to see that private companies like Suez also struggle with replacing dangerous lead pipes. And privatization would have the added burden of raising water rates for Newark residents for decades to come. While city and state officials must respond to the current crisis with urgency, they must also protect their water system from predatory corporate operators. Ultimately, a federal solution like the WATER Act (Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act) would give Newark the resources needed to address the real issue: lead service lines. Renewed federal support can help communities across the country replace these pipes and update infrastructure to give all Americans access to safe, clean drinking water.”