On July 13, 2016, the State Board of Education adopted regulations regarding the testing for lead in drinking water in public schools throughout New Jersey. The regulations were filed with the Office of Administrative Law and became effective on July 13, 2016.
The regulations required testing for lead in all outlets where water may be consumed within 365 days of the effective date of the regulations. All districts were directed to develop a lead sampling plan that governed the collection and analysis of drinking water samples.
In addition, public schools were required to test for lead in drinking water every six years, as described in state regulations.
Samples are required to be sent to a certified testing laboratory for analysis. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) provides a complete list of certified testing laboratories.
State regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(g)) require school districts to annually submit a Statement of Assurance to the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), signifying their compliance with the requirements for lead testing of drinking water. The regulations state:
“All district boards of education shall submit to the Department on an annual basis a statement of assurance that lead testing was completed in accordance with these rules, that notifications were provided consistent with this subchapter, and alternate drinking water continues to be made available to all students and staff.”
The NJDOE has updated the Statement of Assurance to be completed for the 2017-18 school year. This document should be submitted by June 30, 2018.
Every district must make all test results available at the school facility and on the district’s website. The regulations also require notification to the NJDOE, as well as to parents, in any instance in which positive results over the established level are reported. The notification should describe the steps taken to immediately end the use of each drinking water outlet where water quality exceeds the permissible level, as well as measures taken to ensure that alternate drinking water has been made available to all students and staff.
To assist districts in their continuing efforts to remain in compliance with regulations, the NJDOE directs districts to guidance material developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.