Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water
In accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4, the covered entities listed below are required to test for lead in drinking water beginning with the designated Statewide 2021-2022 testing year.
- All New Jersey public school districts
- Jointure and Educational Services commissions
- Charter and Renaissance schools
- Approved private schools for students with disabilities (APSSD) acting under contract to provide educational services on behalf of New Jersey public school districts
- State-funded early childcare facilities pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:13A
- Receiving schools as defined by N.A.C.6A:14-7.1(a).
Water Testing Requirements
Regardless of the results or date of any prior testing, the regulations require covered entities to test for lead in all outlets where water may be used for consumption or food preparation during the designated Statewide testing year, which is every third year as follows:
- July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022; and
- July 1, 2024 to June 30, 2025
All covered entities are directed to develop a lead sampling plan that governs the collection and analysis of drinking water samples (N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(d)1). To assist covered entities in their compliance efforts with water sampling regulations, the New Jersey Department of Education (Department) recommends carefully reviewing lead sampling information provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).
Samples are required to be sent to a certified testing laboratory for analysis. The NJDEP provides access to a complete, real-time list of Drinking Water Certified Lead Labs, by County, on their Data Miner website. (On the Data Miner home page, click “Search by Category,” then select “Certified Laboratories” from the Report Category dropdown. Click on the “Submit” button and select “Drinking Water Certified Lead 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.
Click here to access the online Exemption Request form.
Public Notification Requirements
In accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(e), the entity must complete a review of final laboratory results within 72 hours of receipt. Within 24 hours of reviewing the final laboratory results, every covered entity must:
- Make all test results publicly available at the school facility;
- Post the most recent test results on the covered entity's website; and
- The lead test results shall remain on the website until there are new lead test results to post.
If any results exceed the action level (AL) of 15 µg/l (parts per billion [ppb]), the covered entity must provide written notification to the parents/guardians of all students, facility staff, and the Department and post the notification on the entity’s website. To notify the Department, as part of the statement of assurance submission, the entity will be required to provide an active website address of the exceedance notification letter. If an entity does not have a website, test results and exceedance notification must be posted onto the district website.
The notification must include a description of:
- The steps taken to immediately end the use of each drinking water outlet where water quality exceeds the AL of 15 µg/l;
- Measures taken to ensure that alternate drinking water has been made available to all students and staff; and
- Information regarding the health effects of lead.
To ensure compliance with exceedance notification requirements, click here to download a Notice of Exceedance template letter.
Statement of Assurance Requirement
N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4(i) requires all covered entities to submit a Statement of Assurance (SOA) to the Department by June 30 of each year confirming that (1) lead testing was completed as required, (2) notifications were provided to all parties, and (3) alternate drinking water continues to be made available to all students and staff where water quality exceeds the permissible lead level.
The SOA for the 2021-2022 testing cycle is an online form and can be accessed by clicking here.
The form must be completed and submitted by June 30, 2022. Water testing and notification of exceedances and exemption requests, if applicable, must be completed prior to submitting the SOA.
Covered entities, excluding state-funded early childcare facilities funded through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act grant, are eligible to be reimbursed for water testing and analysis conducted on or after July 1, 2021, as approved by the Department and subject to available funds in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:26.12.4(k). Lead testing and analysis reimbursement is limited to the cost for the collection of water samples, the cost to complete testing and analysis of the water samples by a New Jersey-certified laboratory, and the delivery of results. Other costs, such as remediation, are not eligible for reimbursement. An entity that conducts additional testing in a year other than the Statewide required testing school year (2021-2022 and 2024-2025) is not eligible for reimbursement.
Click here to access the water testing reimbursement form (MS Excel) for costs incurred on or after July 1, 2021 for the 2021-2022 reporting cycle. Only one reimbursement request per covered entity will be accepted after all testing is completed. Reimbursement requests must be submitted to the Department with documentation verifying eligible expenses by August 31, 2022.
For state-funded early childcare facilities: The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJDCF) has been awarded a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist childcare centers with the cost of testing for lead in drinking water. If you are a State-funded early childcare provider and would like more information, please contact NJDCF’s Office of Licensing (OOL) at DCF.CCLEnvironmental@dcf.nj.gov .
Resources and Assistance
Technical guidance documents can be found on the NJDEP’s website to assist entities meet lead in school drinking water testing and sampling requirements. Technical questions regarding lead testing requirements should be emailed to the NJDEP at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions regarding DOE regulations, including submissions to the Department and reimbursement should be directed to email@example.com.