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Newark Water Crisis: Bottles Sent To Residents Past It's Best By Date

NEWARK (CBSNewYork) - Newark residents took yet another hit amid the city's water emergency.

First, they were told about lead in tap water. Tuesday, some of the bottled water they were being given had passed the "best by" date.

Sonia Morgan was furious when she showed up at Vincent Lombardi Community Center in Newark to get bottled water for her family, only to find the fire department hauling all the water away.

"That's crazy, because we're coming all the way from six blocks down. That's not right," Morgan said. "I'm gonna sue the mayor and the city for this."

"Now they've taken the water. That's not right. What's wrong with that water that we can't get the water?" another resident said.

It turns out the city was handing out bottled water manufactured in 2017. The packaging says the water is best if used by May of this year. As a precaution, the city wouldn't distribute it.

"Now there's no water. We don't have the money to buy water either," Morgan said.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reached out to Mayor Ras Baraka, Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find out what's being done right now to help the affected people in Newark. No one agreed to an on-camera interview.

Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker sent a letter to the EPA Tuesday asking for federal help providing water bottles to residents. On Wednesday, Gov. Murphy and Mayor Baraka are expected to tour one of the water bottle distribution sites.

MORERead EPA's Statement On Newark Lead Problem

It was the EPA that initially advised Newark to use a water faucet filter to eliminate lead. Last week, the EPA ordered the city to distribute bottled water when two homes using the filter were found to have elevated levels of lead.

Sanchez was told by phone she'd have to wait until the EPA regional director was ready to comment about the crisis. All this while countless residents searched for safe water to consume.

They literally have nowhere to turn - no water supply - and they can't drink the water out of their own faucets, so they don't have time to wait, Sanchez reported.

DEP officials say they're awaiting test results from more water samples to determine if there's widespread filter failure or if this is a case of a few bad units. In the meantime, residents must drink bottled water.

"This is just frustrating. It's irritating me," said one mother, who told Sanchez her 4-year-old tested positive for lead. "I walked up here to get water for my son. Forget me - my son means everything to me," she said.

The city is offering free water testing to homeowners and also distributing free bottled water as the investigation continues.

Families in the Pequannock service area with lead service lines who have received filters can pick up water at the following locations:

  • The City of Newark Department of Health and Wellness, 110 William St.
  • Bo Porter Sports Complex, 378 Lyons Ave.
  • Boylan Street Recreation Center, 916 South Orange Ave.
  • Vince Lombardi Center, 201 Bloomfield Ave.

For more information, including frequently asked questions, click here.

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