This past weekend America saw on display the ugliness of a most despicable and heinous aspect of our country. White supremacist movements, movements that largely supported Donald Trump for President, feel they have a license to push the kind of agenda that is anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, anti-anybody who is not like them. It was horrible to see these groups displaying their twisted beliefs through flags and chants from past times of global and national horror.
But there is another form of violence occurring during these first weeks of August—right here in New Jersey. it is violence through SILENCE. It is violence through governmental silence about poison in our drinking water.
This violence, like the violence in Charlottesville, is not new violence, but here’s what I’m most concerned about right now.
On July 30th, over two weeks ago, the Water test results for a number of municipalities were published by NJ’s Department of Environmental Protection. In those reports it is clear that two municipalities, Newark and Milltown, have lead levels higher than the lead levels of Flint, Michigan. Flint’s water situation drew the attention of the nation—it’s government was publicly shamed for its failure to inform its citizens of the damage occurring, especially to children and those most vulnerable, every time they took a drink from the tap.
That information was published two weeks ago. At the very least the DEP should have immediately informed the public, on the day of publication, through various forms of home notices, and with high level media campaigns, about the dangers of the water coming from the tap.
But further, the tests that revealed the information about high lead levels were carried out some time ago. It seems to me that AS SOON AS high lead levels are found in drinking water something out to be done about it. We don’t need to wait for publication days to start with remedies to high dangers!
With lead levels being as high as they are in Milltown and Newark they are bound to be high in other places too. What are we doing to dramatically increase testing—to make sure that we are not poisoning the public in towns that just haven’t been tested in a while?
And after high lead levels are found, what are we doing as a state to lay out a plan for correcting the problem?
High levels of lead in drinking water is a public health matter. Poisoning our children damages that child’s life, but, also, it damages our shared life. An ounce of prevention, a commitment to protection, a commitment to prioritize the safety and wellness of all of us, through water, the very fabric of our existence, seems to me to be a proper state function.
We call on Governor Christie, and the Senate and Assembly, and the DEP, to immediately address the lead crisis in our drinking water in NJ.
But my campaign won’t wait for a response from the current government. We, the Kaper-Dale for Governor Campaign, will take immediately steps, through our campaign, to education the public about the crisis, and we will demand, and organize the public to demand, that there be immediate distribution of water filters in Milltown and in Newark.
The Kaper-Dale administration has plans for far reaching solutions to the Lead Crisis in NJ. We will have a DEP that puts water protection, and water safety, at the forefront of our work. We will utilize our public bank to finance a major infrastructure overhaul of our water pipes and water system. And, we will push a major public media campaign to give people the tools they need to test their own water, and the support they need to remediate problems they find in their own homes and in those of their neighbors.
Silence about lead in water in a form of violence. More people will die, more people will suffer, from this act of violence than from many of the most horrific displays of violence that we’ll see blitzed across our TV screens from white supremacists. We cannot allow government apathy, or ineptitude, or penny-pinching or whatever it is…to continue.
Water is life—Government, stop doing violence through your silence. Step up to the plate and take care of our water!
Editor’s note: Seth Kaper-Dale is the Green Party of New Jersey gubernatorial candidate