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Health Indicator Report of Nitrate in Community Drinking Water Systems

Nitrate is a nitrogen compound that occurs naturally in soil, water, plants, and food. It may be formed when microorganisms in the environment break down organic material such as plants, animal manure, and sewage. Nitrate can also be found in chemical fertilizers. Nitrate can get into drinking water from runoff of farms, golf courses and lawns, or from landfills, animal feedlots, and septic systems. Under certain conditions, the body changes nitrate to nitrite. Methemoglobinemia, a form of anemia, can result from the reaction of nitrite with hemoglobin in the blood. When this occurs, the ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the body's tissues is decreased. In infants, this condition is called "blue baby" syndrome. Pregnant women are also more susceptible to nitrate/nitrite-induced methemoglobin.


The New Jersey Maximum Contaminant Level for nitrate in drinking water is 10 milligrams per liter. Data are presented for community water systems that reported test results for the specified time interval.

Data Source

Bureau of Safe Drinking Water, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


The distribution of nitrate concentration in drinking water, by community water system, population served, and year


Number of community water systems or estimated count of population served, by nitrate concentration in drinking water


Not applicable

How Are We Doing?

In order to determine the quality of water provided by community water supplies in New Jersey, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) require mandatory, regular monitoring of treated water delivered to the public. Test results are compared to standards for drinking water quality called maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in public drinking water based on information on health effects, treatment, analytical methods and contaminant occurrence. A complete list of the regulated contaminants and the maximum permissible concentrations allowed in drinking water are listed on NJDEP's website at: [] The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for nitrate is 10 milligrams per liter. A small number of community water systems in New Jersey have nitrate levels that have exceeded the MCL, typically smaller systems using shallow groundwater as the water source.

What Is Being Done?

Public water suppliers are required by law to monitor for regulated contaminants based on type of water system and water source, and ensure the water meets state and federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). The test results are sent to the NJDEP. If the level of any regulated contaminant is above the MCL, additional samples are taken to confirm that a problem exists. The supplier of that water is then required to eliminate the problem by changing to another water source or by improving water treatment. The NJDEP inspects community drinking water systems and evaluates their monitoring reports for compliance with the standards. Noncompliance with a standard can result in a violation. NJDEP works with systems to ensure they notify the public and return to compliance. The USEPA set the MCL for nitrate at 10 milligrams per liter. NJDEP requires the approximately 600 community water systems, 900 non-transient, non-community water systems, and 2,600 transient, non-community water systems in New Jersey to monitor periodically for nitrate and to comply with the MCL.

Available Services

If your drinking water comes from a public water system: You can get the most recent test results for your water system by contacting your water supplier or by accessing Drinking WaterWatch available here: [] You can also contact the NJDEP Bureau of Safe Drinking Water, Technical Assistance at (609) 292-5550. If your drinking water comes from a private well: You are responsible for testing. The NJDEP recommends that you use a laboratory that is NJDEP-certified. You can call NJDEP Office of Quality Assurance at (609) 292-3950 for information on laboratories certified to test drinking water. Testing is required for sale of residential real estate when a well is the source of water. For more information, contact the NJDEP Private Well Testing Program, [], or call (866) 479-8378.

Health Program Information

For questions regarding health effects of nitrate in drinking water, contact the New Jersey Department of Health, Consumer and Environmental Health Services, PO Box 369, Trenton, NJ 08625-0369; (609) 826-4984. For concerns regarding Federal and State drinking water regulations and public water supply monitoring results, contact the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Safe Drinking Water Implementation or Bureau of Safe Drinking Water, Technical Assistance, (609) 292-5550 To inquire about NJ certified laboratories for nitrate testing of drinking water, contact the Office of Quality Assurance at (609) 292-3950 For information on Federal drinking water regulations, health effects of nitrate in drinking water, and other water safety issues, contact the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 Contact your Public Water Utility for public drinking water regulations and monitoring results.
Page Content Updated On 05/10/2021, Published on 05/11/2021
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 02 March 2024 8:08:55 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

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