1. Various of Desmond Odom, school teacher, turning on the water in the home he shares with his father. The pipes in his house and the feeder pipes outside his property that deliver water to his home are all contaminated with lead.
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Desmond Odom, School Teacher
"Basically the water is is very pungent and you could taste it -- you would taste like the metal you could taste like the chemicals and it doesn't taste like natural water. So we don't even deal with the water at all. We just get a bunch about water because my father he's 82 years old and we can't have him using this water, to bathe in this water. So we just load up on a bunch of Poland Springs (bottled water brand). They have a great deal at ShopRite -- three cases for nine dollars."
3.Various of old rusted lead pipes
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Mayor Ras Baraka (D) Newark
"What happened in Flint was egregious and I know it is sexy it sells this stuff to put on the front page. That's not that's not what happened here. In Flint they purposefully did not put the corrosion control inhibitor in their water. Ours stopped working. That's a marked and clear difference."
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Mayor Ras Baraka (D) Newark
"The city of Newark has always been in compliance with the DEP and EPA lead and copper rule in the city. We've never been told that we weren't."
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Mayor Ras Baraka (D) Newark
"Water has become this sexy thing that everybody wants to talk about but our poverty has been in our community since we got up here. And at the end of the day the homes that people live in the neighborhoods that they live in high industrial neighborhoods homes that are there that have been painted with lead based paint dust that's in and around it community is ways people ingest led and inhale led every single day in our community "
The mayor of New Jersey's largest city denounced comparisons Thursday between high lead levels affecting as many as 18,000 residences and the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, as the city faces a long and costly cleanup and replacement effort.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said his administration is taking multiple steps to address the high levels caused by aging lead service lines that serve private residences, some of which are more than 100 years old.
"We don't even deal with the water at all," said Desmond Odom, a schoolteacher who shares an affected home with his elderly father.
Odom says he has resorted to purchasing bottled water for everything.
Between 15,000 and 18,000 homes are estimated to have the lead lines. Newark has about 280,000 residents.
Newark's current plight dates back to a 2016 finding that lead had tainted water in city schools. Since then, the city has been found on three separate occasions to have elevated lead levels in its residential water supply.
Baraka said the city has complied with directives from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency at each step and has taken additional steps, including giving out 20,000 free water filters to residents this summer.
The problems drew additional attention in June when the National Resources Defense Council and an association of city educators claimed in a federal lawsuit that the city hadn't been adequately monitoring and testing a water system that contained what it termed "dangerously high" lead levels.
The publicity generated by the suit spurred comparisons to Flint, where water was found to have elevated lead levels in 2014 and 2015 despite officials' insistence the water was safe.
Some state health officials in Michigan have been charged criminally in connection with an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area that some experts believe resulted from poorly treated water.
Baraka called the comparisons "B.S." and "a lie."
"I know it sounds sexy and it's something you can put on the front page, but that's not what happened here," he said Thursday. "In Flint they purposely did not put a corrosion control inhibitor in their water. Ours stopped working. That's a marked and clear difference.
"What they did was purposeful and deliberate, to save money," he added. "Our corrosion control inhibitor stopped working; we found out it stopped working and we did something about it."
Replacing the lead service lines is expected to cost roughly $70 million and take several years, and is complicated by questions over how much, if anything, residents should be forced to pay since the lines are the property of the homeowners. Baraka estimated the total cost at roughly several thousand dollars per home.