Governor Phil Murphy

Governor Murphy, Department of Education Launch Centralized Online Database to Provide School Drinking Water Lead Testing Information

11/21/2019

Database is a Key Element of Governor’s Initiative to Ensure Students have Access to Clean, Safe Drinking Water in Schools

 
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced that the New Jersey Department of Education has launched a centralized database with lead testing information from school entities. This initiative is part of a three-pronged approach that was announced last month by Governor Murphy, alongside Congressman Josh Gottheimer, to strengthen the State’s response to lead testing and the remediation of elevated lead levels in drinking water in New Jersey schools.

“New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure has sparked a statewide conversation on the best way forward to protect residents from the dangers of lead exposure,” said Governor Murphy. “In October, I announced a three-pronged strategy to address lead in schools, and I am proud that a month later, the Department of Education implemented a critical part of our plan. By mobilizing the state’s resources to modernize reporting mechanisms and increase public transparency, we are fulfilling our commitment to ensure New Jersey’s children and educators have access to clean, safe drinking water in our schools.” 

"To know if their children's school is at risk for lead water, New Jersey parents need transparency and easy access to up-to-date information –– something I've been fighting for years now for," said U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer. "It's plain and simple: every child deserves to drink water that’s free of lead, and every parent deserves to know if their child’s school has lead in their pipes, sinks, or water fountains. I'm glad New Jersey is taking these important steps and launching this database to help our children stay safe and healthy."

“Every child deserves a safe and healthy learning environment, and parents need to feel reassured that their child’s school has taken the necessary steps to provide for their safety,” said New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “Our initiative will provide an extra level of reassurance and oversight.” 

“Protecting New Jersey’s water is a team effort and the New Jersey DEP is pleased to support the Department of Education’s step to better inform New Jersey’s parents,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “This, along with the many other efforts to address the state’s aging drinking water infrastructure, truly makes New Jersey stronger for our schoolkids and their families.”

The centralized, state-managed database provides water quality information reported by school entities, including whether any samples exceeded the permissible lead action level, the date of the most recent sampling, a link to the full sampling results, and contact information for the school district or other school entity. The statewide database of lead testing summaries is hosted on the New Jersey Department of Education’s Lead Testing webpage and will be updated on a rolling basis as the Department receives information from additional school entities. Lead testing summaries will be updated when the new testing cycle begins in the 2021-2022 school year. Moving forward, the Department of Education will collaborate with Department of Environmental Protection to modernize the data collection and reporting process for school drinking water lead testing. 

In addition to establishing the centralized database, Governor Murphy’s three-pronged approach to enhance the State’s response and transparency to lead testing and the remediation of elevated lead levels in drinking water in New Jersey schools includes the following initiatives: 

  • To ensure timely detection of elevated lead levels, the Department of Education will move to strengthen its Safe Drinking Water regulations by requiring schools to test for lead every three years, rather than the current requirement of every six years. These regulations will also include enhanced enforcement measures against non-compliant school entities, such as public reporting of districts that are out of compliance, penalties imposed during the district’s NJQSAC review, and investigation by the Department’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance.
  • In addition, the Administration will prioritize remediation projects for school entities with lead-level exceedances using $100 million in voter-approved bond funding for school water infrastructure improvement projects through the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.