For Residents Receiving Notice of a Lead Service Line
Water systems in NJ are required to notify residents, non-paying consumers (e.g., a renter not responsible for the water bill), and any off-site owner of a property (e.g., landlord) when it is known they are served by a lead service line no later than February 21, 2022. Water systems will also be required to replace all lead service lines in their service area by 2031.
While lead in drinking water poses health risks, your water system is required to assess appropriate actions and may be required to treat your water to minimize corrosion of pipe materials into the water. For more information on how your water is treated and monitored for safety, visit: NJ’s Protective Water Quality Requirements.
Example Notification Letter
Frequently Asked Questions - Lead Service Lines
What is a Service Line?
A service line is a portion of pipe that connects the water main to the building inlet. Ownership of the service line varies by water system but is frequently split between the water system and the property owner. Service lines can be made of a variety of materials, such as plastic, copper, galvanized metals, or lead.
“Lead service line” means a water supply connection that is made of, or lined with, a material consisting of lead, and which connects a water main to a building inlet. A lead pigtail, lead gooseneck, or other lead fitting shall be considered to be a lead service line, regardless of the composition of the service line or other portions of piping to which such piece is attached. A galvanized service line shall be considered to be a lead service line. A lead service line may be owned by the public community water system, a property owner, or both.
Galvanized service lines are steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust. Galvanized piping was commonly installed in homes built before 1960 and was used as an alternative to lead pipes for water supply lines. Galvanized lines that are or were downstream of a lead source such as a lead service line can contribute to lead in drinking water. They also can capture lead from upstream lead sources and release lead if water quality changes or these pipes are disturbed.
Per the legislation signed in July 2021 (P.L. 2021, C. 183), galvanized service lines are also considered lead service lines for the purposes of identification and replacement. The notices described above are also required to be sent to addresses served by galvanized lines. If you have a galvanized service line in your home, it will need to be replaced just as a lead service line would.
If you did not receive a mailing, it is possible you may still have a lead service line, but your water system may not currently be aware of the materials of your service line. If you are a renter, you should ask your landlord if such a notice was sent to them. You can call your water system to inquire about your service line material(s).
Steps to Reduce Exposure from Lead in Drinking Water
Exposure to lead at any level can be associated with adverse health effects. Therefore, consider taking the following steps to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
- Determine if you have lead service line or interior lead plumbing or solder.
Property owners are encouraged to check their portion of the service lines for lead and to contact their water system if a lead service line is identified. If your home/building was constructed prior to 1988, it is also important to determine if interior lead solder or lead pipes are present. You can check yourself, hire a licensed plumber, or check with your landlord. If you received a notification from your water provider, their records indicate that some portion of your service line contains lead or galvanized materials
- Replace plumbing fixtures and service lines containing lead. If there is a lead service line, replace it in full, from main to home. Contact your water system prior to replacing the lead service line on your property. Replace brass faucets, fittings, and valves that do not meet the current definition of “lead free.” The current definition went into effect January 4, 2014; therefore, any “lead free” plumbing materials purchased and/or installed prior to that date should be discarded or replaced. Visit the NSF website at www.nsf.org to learn more about lead-containing plumbing fixtures.
- Run the cold water to flush out lead. Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer the water resides in plumbing the more lead it may contain. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of the plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one gallon of water. For those with lead service lines or until you determine if you are served by one, let the water run from the tap longer based on the length of the lead service line and the plumbing configuration in your home. In other words, the larger the home or building and the greater the distance to the water main (in the street), the more water it will take to flush properly.
- Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Because lead from lead-containing plumbing materials and pipes can dissolve into hot water more easily than cold water, never drink, cook, or prepare beverages including baby formula using hot water from the tap. If you have not had your water sampled or if you know or suspect you have a lead service line it is recommended that bottled or filtered water be used for drinking and preparing baby formula. If you need hot water, draw water from the cold tap and then heat it. However, it is still safe to wash dishes and do laundry. Lead will not soak into dishware or most clothes.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- Use alternative sources or treatment of water. If there is confirmed or suspected lead-containing materials, such as lead service lines and/or interior lead plumbing or lead solder, in your home or building, you may consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 1-800-NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Water softeners and reverse osmosis units will remove lead from water but can also make the water more corrosive to lead solder and plumbing by removing certain minerals; therefore, the installation of these treatment units at the point of entry into homes with lead plumbing should only be done under supervision of a qualified water treatment professional.
- Remove and clean aerators/screens on plumbing fixtures. Over time, particles and sediment can collect in the aerator screen. Regularly remove and clean aerators screens located at the tip of faucets and remove any particles.
- Test your water for lead. Testing is essential because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. The DEP DataMiner Tool can be used for assistance in locating a certified laboratory for lead analysis in drinking water.
- Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about lead exposure. Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing lead. New Jersey law requires that children be screened at both 1 and 2 years of age. Children 3 to 5 years of age should also be screened if they have not been screened before.
- Have an electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from the electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electrical code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.
- Maintain Water softeners and reverse osmosis units. These softeners and units will remove lead from water but can also make the water more corrosive to lead solder and plumbing by removing certain minerals; therefore, the installation of these treatment units at the point of entry into homes with lead plumbing should only be done under supervision of a qualified water treatment professional.