Frequently Asked Questions
Sampling for Lead in Drinking Water in New Jersey Schools
Frequently Asked Questions
New Jersey Department of Education
Updated August 11, 2021
- What are the major provisions of the lead-testing requirements for New Jersey schools?
- What do entities have to test for lead in their school drinking water?
- What locations in my school should be sampled?
- Do the individuals collecting the water samples need to be certified?
- What is the level of lead when remediation action must be taken?
- Where can entities find guidance on how to create a plumbing survey, sampling plan and a Quality Assurance Project Plan?
- What documentation of testing results must a district send to the DOE?
- In between the initial post-remediation retest and the next scheduled six-year requirement to test all outlets, is there a minimum number of required lead tests at treated fixtures?
- Are there online resources with additional information about the lead-testing program?
- How do I contact the NJDOE or NJDEP if I have more questions?
In August 2020 the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted amendments to the regulations requiring testing for lead in drinking water. Beginning with the 2021-2022 school year, all districts are required to test for lead in drinking water outlets on the same three-year testing cycle: in the 2021-2022 school year and again during the 2024-2025 school year. All districts are directed to develop a lead sampling plan that will govern the collection and analysis of drinking water samples. Samples must then be sent to a certified testing laboratory for analysis.
Guidance and Resources: To assist districts through the process, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), developed guidance documents, including templates of lead testing plans, notification letters, FAQ sheets, and a list of certified testing laboratories. The guidance is available on NJDEP's website.
Notification: Districts must make all test results available at the school facility and on the district's website. Because districts must confirm this notification on an annual basis by submitting a Statement of Assurance to the Department of Education, the lead test results should not be removed from the website unless and until there are new lead test results to post.
The regulations also require notification to the NJDOE and to parents of any instance in which the test results exceed the permissible lead action level (15 ppb). The notification should describe the steps taken to immediately end use of each drinking water outlet where water quality exceeds the permissible lead level and the measures taken to ensure that alternate drinking water has been made available to all students and staff.
Covered entities include:
- All New Jersey public school districts;
- Charter schools;
- Renaissance school projects;
- Jointure commissions;
- Educational services commissions;
- Approved private schools for students with disabilities acting under contract to provide educational services on behalf of New Jersey public school districts;
- State-funded early childcare facilities pursuant to J.A.C. 6A:13A (contracted child care and Head Start programs); and
- Receiving schools as defined by J.A.C. 6A:14-7.1(a).
Drinking water outlets, as defined by regulations, must be sampled. The Definitions section of the regulations includes the following: "'Drinking water outlet' means any location at a school facility, other facility, or temporary facility, as those terms are defined in this section, where water is expected to be used for consumption or food preparation." A drinking water outlet includes drinking water fountains and chillers, ice machines, kitchen faucets, cafeteria taps, food preparation sinks, teacher lounge sinks, nurse's office sinks (if an alternate source of drinking water is not provided), and sinks with a bubbler. Sinks in common area bathrooms are NOT locations where water is expected to be consumed; and therefore, do not meet the definition of a drinking water outlet. The regulations also require drinking water outlets in all school facilities to be sampled. This includes drinking water outlets at school athletic fields, concession stands and satellite buildings.
No. However, individuals must receive training, provided by the NJDEP, about the technical guidance and the required sampling procedures. All responsible entities are required to review, comply and sign the school district's Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). By signing the QAPP, all individuals are agreeing to perform all tasks in accordance with the developed sampling plans.
The current action level is the Federal action level of 15ug/L. It should be noted that the regulations refer to the federal lead action level; therefore, this value may change if the EPA revises the lead action level in the Federal Lead and Copper Rule in the future.
Please refer to NJDEP's Lead Sampling in School and Child Care Facilities Guidance for an overview document, lead sampling information, a quality assurance project plan template, a quick reference sampling guide, guidance and tools, and an FAQ.
If the testing results do not exceed the permissible lead action level (15 ppb), districts should not send the NJDOE documentation of testing results. Each school year districts have to certify, through submission of the annual Statement of Assurance, that lead testing was conducted in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4.
If the testing results exceed the permissible lead action level (15 ppb), districts must notify the NJDOE and parents of the excessive level. The notification should also describe the steps taken to immediately end use of each drinking water outlet where water quality exceeds the permissible lead level and the measures taken to ensure that alternate drinking water has been made available to all students and staff.
All planning materials, the QAPP, plumbing inventory and other documents will be retained by each district.
No. There is no other lead testing required in between the three-year cycles. Each water outlet must be retested at the end of the three-year period.
Note that the NJDEP is the lead agency regarding environmental health issues, including lead sampling, and the NJDOE has oversight over the reimbursement program. To contact the NJDOE, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the NJDEP, email email@example.com or call (609) 292-2957.