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Newark Water Crisis: Lawsuit Seeks Bottled Water To Be Delivered, N.J.'s DEP Commish To Meet With Feds

NEWARK (CBSNewYork) -- The water emergency in Newark has prompted a new court battle.

Thousands of residents are affected, having to rely on bottled water.

Environmental groups are suing the city, saying even more residents are at risk amid the lead crisis.

Bottled is the most trusted water source for sections of Newark where people's faucets are fed by lead service lines.

Possible sources of lead contamination and how to kick it out of Newark were debated all day Thursday in federal court.

Web Extra: Gov. Phil Murphy, Local Officials On Newark Water Emergency

Advocates for safe water walked into a federal courthouse Thursday seeking a judge's order to rescue every Newark household with taps churning out lead-contaminated water. They want more distribution that some city experts consider necessary.

"We are filing for 10 cases of bottled water, door-to-door delivery, per week, to all households, including the Wanaque, not just the Pequannock," Newark Water Coalition member Shakima Thomas said.

She's referring to the two service areas of Newark where they say elevated lead levels are being seen, sometimes despite the water filters that were handed out to tens of thousands of residents.

"We are asking that anyone who has a lead pipe or a lead service line inside their house... that they should have a safe source of drinking water. Right now, it looks like bottled water is that source, and we're asking the court to order that," said Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The city's four water distribution centers have been criticized as inadequate, and the extra push in court is for free deliveries to people's homes.

"For our most vulnerable residents, it is imperative they get it at home," resident Jordan added.

"Water is a human right. Fix it!" Newark resident Yvette Jordan said.

Meanwhile, New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner is meeting with federal officials in Washington.

On Wednesday, Commissioner Catherine McCabe said the EPA was surprised the water filters distributed in the lead-contaminated areas were not working.

McCabe said they were the same kind of filters used in Flint, Michigan.

Web Extra: How Lead Levels Can Affect Children

Governor Phil Murphy wants help beyond the state level.

Some residents are demanding Newark Mayor Ras Baraka resign.

University Hospital will be offering free lead screenings from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for children and adults in the affected zip codes.

To make an appointment, call (973) 972-9000. Residents should bring a proof of address to their screening, and guardians accompanying children should bring proof of their relationship to the child.

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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