Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Joyce Lai makes this connection here…

The news entitled, “Poisoned Water in Newark Schools” was published by The New York Times on March 19th, 2016 on their editorial board. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology regarding on water quality. In summary, this news article reports that Newark Public Schools recently acknowledged that the water at its school has contained high level of leads for years and the government is now taking actions to fix the severe situation. CNN news has reported that 30 locations out of 66 schools have tested positive for lead exposure over the federal limit of 15 parts per billion (Jorgenson et. al, 2016). The ABC news has also reported that Newark will be testing 17000 children for lead poisoning after the news broke out (Miles, 2016). This is event has drawn the public’s attention and the situation needs to be remedied at its urgent. Although there is still no clear explanation on why the lead levels has been so high all these years, yet the government has only recently acknowledged the issue and so far no solution on how this problem can be utterly solved.

This event relates to the WRE broader context specifically in the environment and the society. Lead in drinking water is most often a problem in either very old or very new house. Lead pipes were once commonly used in plumbing system built before 1930. Brass materials are now used in residential, commercial and municipal water distributing systems and fixtures due to brass contains small amount of lead to make it malleable  (Dozier et. al, 2016).This unfortunate event shares some similarities with another current water quality crisis, the Flint water crisis. Both areas are distressed and both have a large minority populations. Water quality, especially drinking water, should be ensured for all areas. Situations like this can be happening in a lot of other communities if the local governments do not reinforce the regulations or take actions effectively as soon as they detect the problems like such.

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/opinion/sunday/poisoned-water-in-newark-schools.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FWater%20Pollution&_r=0

Joyce Lai hydro current event

Figure 1. A warning sign on a fountain at John F. Kennedy School in Newark.


Bright, J. (2016, March 31). A warning sign on a fountain at John F. Kennedy School in Newark, where elevated lead levels have been found in some schools’ drinking water. [Photograph found in The New York Times, New York]. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/nyregion/lead-in-newark-schools-water.html (Originally photographed 2016, March 31)

Dozier, M., & McFarland, M. (n.d.). Drinking Water Problems: Lead (Tech. No. L-5452). Retrieved April 05, 2016, from Texas A&M AGRILIFE EXTENSION website: http://publications.tamu.edu/WATER/PUB_water_Drinking Water Problems Lead.pdf

Miles, D. (2016, March 16). Newark will test 17,000 school children for lead poisoning. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://abc7ny.com/education/newark-will-test-17000-school-children-for-lead-poisoning/1247932/

The New York Times (Ed.). (2016, March 19). Poisoned Water in Newark Schools [Editorial]. http://www.nytimes.com/. Retrieved April 05, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/opinion/sunday/poisoned-water-in-newark-schools.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Water Pollution&_r=0