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Newark Water Crisis: Angry Resident Speak Out On Lead, 'Almost Like Flint, Michigan'

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There are water worries in New Jersey's largest city after officials detected high levels of lead, despite the use of filters.

Thousands of Newark residents have been urged to use bottled water for drinking and cooking, CBS2's Reena Roy reported Monday.

The city said homes in one area have to take precautions. From speaking to residents, they are confused, frustrated and very upset with how officials have been handling the problem.

When asked if she thinks her water is safe, resident Faith Davis said, "No. The water problem in Newark is getting real bad, almost like Flint, Michigan."

MOREHigh Levels Of Lead Found In Newark Tap Water

Davis, a mother of two, said she is not happy. She showed up to the city's Department of Health and Community Wellness on Monday morning for bottled water, a new filter, and, more importantly, some clarity, which she said has been pretty difficult to get.

Newark water
Officials in Newark are urging residents in the Pequannock neighborhood to run their water for five minutes through a filter before using. (Photo: CBS2)

"Something should've been done a long time ago and they should've let us know," Davis said. "It's just like crazy. They need to fix the water."

"I'm just hoping they come up with some type of solution to clean the water," resident Selima Butcher added.

Others who showed up at designated locations to receive water were clearly losing their patience.

"I'm a senior citizen. I'm very concerned about the water situation because you don't know what it's gonna do to us," Charleszine Goethe said.

Some even left empty handed after saying they were confused by long lists and wait times.

"We could be here all day long. I'm not waiting. Forget it, I can buy water!" Goethe said.

"No, they not organized, not at all," another resident said.

Many said they were feeling added stress as they worry about their health with countless homes in Newark at risk.

"I have a granddaughter. She's 5. I'm worried about her, I'm thinking about taking her to get lead levels checked," Quadyrrah Adams said.

MORE: Newark Breaks Ground On $75 Million Project To Remove 1,500 Lead Service Lines On Private Property

Over the weekend, officials announced lead was discovered in the water during random testing at two homes where filters were supposed to be helping the ongoing lead issue.

Around 38,000 filters have been distributed by the city since the fall of last year, but now the Environmental Protection Agency says that they may not be performing as expected.

"It's a health hazard, not only to myself but for others," resident Kear Williams said.

MORE: Read EPA's Statement On Newark Lead Problem

On Saturday, Mayor Ras Baraka said the filters are useful if people run their water for at least five minutes before using them.

"Testing showed that the filters were very effective in the locations that ran their water, which is why we encourage you to continue running the water to get fresh water in the pipes," Baraka said.

Until more testing is done, the city is advising residents at roughly 15,000 homes in the Pequannock area to do that, because they have lead service lines. But some people had no idea until CBS2 told them.

Resident Herbert Yarborough said he'd "just run it for a minute or something and just drink it and that's it, but I didn't know we had to run it for five minutes."

Even still, clearly there are no guarantees. So in the meantime the EPA is strongly urging people to use bottled water for drinking and cooking, saying boiling tap water does not effectively remove lead, which is especially risky for pregnant women and young children.

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.
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