A magnet, a screwdriver, and a penny — that’s all a homeowner needs to find out if their water pipes are made of lead, a toxin that can harm mental and physical development in small children.
Municipalities across the U.S. must create a public inventory of lead water pipes by October 2024, and the city of Newark is asking residents for their help in exchange for a chance to win free water for a year up to $1,000.
Lead can seep into drinking water through service lines that connect to buildings and homes. The potent neurotoxin can damage brain development in children, so replacing these old pipes is crucial.
“[The Environmental Protection Agency] is looking for a find-and-replace type of program, and the first step of compliance is to identify all the [lead] water services within the system,” said Mark Neimeister, water operations superintendent for the city’s public works department.
“For a city the size of Newark, having roughly 10,000 customers, that could be quite a project for the city itself.”