On July 13, 2016, the State Board of Education adopted regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4 Safe drinking water regarding the testing for lead in drinking water in public schools throughout New Jersey. The regulations were amended and readopted in August 2020. The amendment requires all covered entities to test for lead in drinking water every three years beginning with the 2021-2022 school year resulting in all covered entities being on the same testing cycle. The lead testing in school drinking water cycle runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.
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).
Overview of Regulations
The regulations require testing for lead in all outlets where water may be consumed. All covered entities are directed to develop a lead sampling plan that governed the collection and analysis of drinking water samples (N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(d)1).
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 Drinking Water Labs, by County, through their Data Miner website. When you go to the Data Miner website, search for “Certified Drinking Water Labs.”
In accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(j), entities may request an exemption from the lead testing requirements if they can demonstrate that they do not use any drinking water outlets for consumption or food preparation in any of their facilities. An entity that receives approval for an exemption from the Department must make the approval available for public inspection at the facility and on the entity’s website. The entity must reapply for an exemption or begin lead testing every Statewide testing year.
Access to District-Specific Information
Every covered entity must make all test results publicly available at the school facility and on the covered entity's website. Because covered entities must confirm this notification on an annual basis through the NJDOE’s Statement of Assurance, 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 written notification to the NJDOE, as well as to parents, in any instance in which the results exceed the permissible lead action level (15 ppb). 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 (N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(e)).
Guidance and Resources
To assist covered entities in their ongoing efforts to remain in compliance with regulations, the NJDOE directs districts to guidance material developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Submitting a Statement of Assurance
State regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(g)) require covered entities to annually submit a Statement of Assurance to the NJDOE, signifying their compliance with the requirements for lead testing of drinking water. The regulations state:
“All district boards of education (covered entities) 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.”