Testing and Reporting for Lead in School Drinking Water
Summary of Requirements
- By June 30th of every year, all entities (Districts, State-Funded Early Childcares, Charters, Renaissance schools, Jointure Commissions, ESCs, APSSDs and receiving schools) must submit the online Statement of Assurance (SOA) to the NJDOE.
- All entities must test for lead from all drinking water outlets during the same three-year testing cycle. The next designated Statewide testing year for all entities to test is 2024-2025.
- The results from the most recently required testing of lead in drinking water must be posted on the entity’s website.
- 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 post the notification on the entity’s website.
- Testing of lead in drinking water must be completed after the replacement of any drinking water outlets or alteration to plumbing that may affect lead levels at the outlet.
- An exemption from testing may be requested during a testing year (2024-2025) if there are no drinking water outlets used for consumption or food preparation in any facility.
The Testing of Lead in School Drinking Water rules, found at N.J.A.C. 6A:26-12.4, apply to the following entities:
- All New Jersey public school districts
- Charter and Renaissance schools
- Jointure and Educational Services commissions
- 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).
Statement of Assurance (SOA)
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 30th of each year confirming that (1) lead testing was completed as required, (2) notifications were provided to all parties (as applicable), and (3) alternate drinking water continues to be made available to all students and staff where water quality exceeds the permissible lead level.
An updated SOA form will be available each spring for online submission due June 30th of each school year.
Testing and Sampling Requirements
Regardless of the results or date of any prior testing, entities are required to test during the designated Statewide testing year for lead in drinking water from all outlets where water may be used for consumption or food preparation.
Testing for all covered entities must be completed every 3 years during the designated Statewide testing years. The next required lead in drinking water testing must be completed during the 2024-2025 school year between July 1, 2024 and 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.”)
Public Notification Requirements
Following completion of testing, 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 of all water samples must remain publicly available in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A-12.4(f)
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 exceedance 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.
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, which is 2024-2025. An SOA must still be submitted annually for any school exempt from testing.
The deadline to submit reimbursement for the 2021-2022 testing year ended August 31, 2022. Covered entities were eligible to be reimbursed for lead drinking water testing and analysis conducted during the 2021-2022 testing year (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022).
Lead testing and analysis reimbursement is limited to the cost for the collection of drinking 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, for example: remediation, testing of parameters other than lead in drinking water (such as copper) and testing from outlets not used for drinking water (such as bathroom sinks), are not eligible for reimbursement. Reimbursement is based on approval by the Department and subject to available funds.
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 email@example.com. Questions regarding DOE regulations, including submissions to the Department and reimbursement should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.