Panel looks for solutions to lead problem in Essex County
With elevated levels of lead in water plaguing a number of Essex County towns including Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley and Newark, Rep. Mikie Sherrill held a panel to hear about innovative solutions to the problem.
Since at least 2017, these towns have dealt with lead in the water, with the water coming through the Pequannock Water System. Bloomfield, Belleville and Nutley all purchase their water through Newark.
A corrosion control chemical used by Newark is contributing to the problem by causing the lead to leach from plumbing. Newark began adding it to the water around 2015 to help improve drinking water.
Entrepreneurs and inventors were among those pitching solutions on Tuesday.
Michael Ramos, the chief engineer at Chicago public schools, spoke Tuesday about a device he invented that can flush pipes every three hours, preventing stagnation of water and the collection of lead and allowing for the continual distribution of a substance that prevents lead from leaching into the system. Ramos created the device to flush his own home's pipes before adapting it to fit school buildings, after Chicago schools recorded elevated lead levels in water fountains.
Ramos said that during two pilot programs, started three years ago, the detectable lead content of the water dropped below 1 part per billion. The federally acceptable level is 15 parts per billion. He suggested a similar pilot program could be started in Newark.
Eric Roy, a chemist, initially began distributing lead filters to Flint, Michigan, as a charitable effort. Hisefforts eventually morphed into a company called Hydroviv, which was funded through the television show "Shark Tank." Hydroviv takes water quality information from local, state and federal databases to create a personalized filtration system for each situation.