What is the problem you’re trying to solve? 

The reported levels of lead in the water in the city of Newark are 33 parts per billion, although the CDC maintains that there is no safe level of lead. The EPA federal guidelines limit the levels of lead in water to 15 parts per billion and no further. However, in early 2019 Newark reported 57 parts per billion. Citizens in Newark are still unaware of how devastating this is and the Newark Water Coalition is filling in the gaps with necessary information. We are providing resources to the communities in and around the City who are negatively affected by the lead water crisis.

What program did you create to solve this problem?

Our community outreach program is a three-prong approach. The first is to provide residents with sequential testing to know the quality of the water they are using and drinking. The second is to provide water pitchers, water filters, gallons and bottles of water so that residents can have usable water. The third is to give people the facts about the crisis and how to advocate for themselves. We present to students, up to university level, and in communities in and around Newark.

What were the outcomes of your program?

We have hosted a water & filter distribution at St. Lucy’s Church for the last 8 months. During the summer the Newark Water Coalition was able to service 400 families on a weekly basis. We then opened up a second location in the East Ward of Newark and that location services about 75-100 families on a weekly basis.

We have seen communities deepen connections and neighbors taking care of neighbors. One remarkable outcome is the number of volunteers that have come forward since we started the distributions. In October, we received a donation of 30k cases of water and the neighborhood and we had no shortage of help. One of the youngest volunteers who has taken a leadership role in the program is a high school freshman who was prompted to help by seeing the work that the Newark Water Coalition was doing weekly. And the student involvement is growing!

What is your motivation to do this work?

“Superman is not coming to save us. We do not have the privilege of not talking about this and not being loud about this.” -Sabre Bee

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