Problems We Found With Newark Tap Water


Emma Schultz, M.S.  |  Scientific Contributor

For our assessment of Newark's tap and drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from the City of Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, the water provider for Newark, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as from samples that we collect and analyze. We cross reference these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, and look at upcoming regulatory changes. The water filters that we sell in Newark are optimized with these issues in mind.

Source Of Newark Drinking Water

Newark’s tap and drinking water originates from four surface water reservoirs in the Pequannock and Wanaque watersheds in Morris, Passaic, and Sussex Counties. The Charlotteburg Reservoir is the last in the chain of reservoirs. Water is then treated at the Pequannock Treatment Plant in West Milford before distribution to customers in Newark.

Until 2013, the Newark Watershed Conservation Development Corporation was the provider of water to the city of Newark. This changed following multiple investigations and public resentment when the agency was quickly dissolved and management reverted to the City of Newark.

High Lead Concentrations In Newark Tap Water

Unlike things like chromium 6 and arsenic, which contaminate the water supply itself, lead enters tap water through older lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (such as the recent Flint, Michigan crisis), lead leaches into drinking water at toxic levels. Recent analysis (conducted in 2015) for lead in Newark found a 90th percentile concentration of 10 parts per billion, with 4 sites exceeding the EPA Action Level of 15 ppb. Newer data collected in 2017 indicate that levels are rising and that the city is likely in exceedance of Federal action levels. While Newark claims to be in compliance with loose federal standards, these concentrations are very high, and suggests that a large number of people in Newark have lead concentration over the 1 ppb level that the American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for. We strongly recommend that Newark residents, particularly those that live in older buildings and have young children, take steps to remove lead from their drinking water.

The lead problem in Newark doesn't end with homes. In early 2016, 30 of Newark’s 66 public schools, after being tested for lead in the drinking water, were found to have lead concentrations exceeding the Action Level of 15 ppb, with concentrations at several elementary schools reaching as high as 134 and 194 ppb. 194 ppb is nearly 13 times higher than the Action Level. Drinking water was promptly shut off in many schools, with repeat testing and remediation, where possible, following shortly thereafter. Nine of the 30 schools were cleared to turn their water on in April 2017, with the remaining schools hoping to be cleared by autumn 2017.

EPA and CDC acknowledge that there is no safe level of lead. In addition, federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap. See Hydroviv’s 2017 article for more information on lead contamination in Newark’s schools.

Chromium 6 Levels In Newark Tap Water

Chromium 6 is a very toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Newark’s tap and drinking water has recently averaged a substantial 42 parts per trillion for chromium 6. These levels are 2 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)

DBPs are a type of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants are added to the water supply, and subsequently combine with naturally-occurring organic matter such as leaves. While these chemicals are not well-regulated, EPA has stated that they are linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, and kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Newark’s tap and drinking water has recently had somewhat high levels of DBPs, with a 2016 average of 94.75 parts per billion (the majority of which come from trihalomethanes). There were higher amounts recorded in 2015, with 2 out of 12 sites at or exceeding the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for trihalomethanes. In 2016, 1 out of 12 sites exceeded the MCL for haloacetic acids.

Chlorine Is Used To Disinfect Newark Drinking Water

As with many cities in the United States, Newark adds chlorine to the water supply to protect consumers against waterborne illness. While not considered unduly harmful, many people find that removing chlorine from their drinking water swiftly improves the water’s overall taste and odor. When you filter your tap water, we believe that you will notice an immediate taste enhancement.

Still Have Questions About Newark Tap Water?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each city’s water. The chemicals that we list above (lead) are what we consider to be “points of emphasis” so we can design and build the best water filter for Newark tap water, but all of our home water filtration systems provide broad protection against other contaminants commonly found in drinking water (e.g. VOCs, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, solvents, pesticides, mercury).

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Newark tap water, feel free to visit, reach out by email ( or through our live chat. We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.

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