Health Indicator Report of Nitrate in Private Wells
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 materials, 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, landfills, animal feedlots, and septic systems. High levels of nitrate in drinking water can lead to methemoglobinemia, a form of anemia, particularly in infants ("blue baby syndrome") and pregnant women.
Nitrate in Private Wells Percent of Tested Wells Exceeding MCL, by County, January 2011 through December 2015
NotesData Source: Private Well Testing Act Program, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Well Test Results for January 2011 - December 2015.
DefinitionPercent of tested private wells with nitrate concentration exceeding the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 milligrams per liter
NumeratorNumber of tested private wells with nitrate concentration exceeding the maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter in a specified time period
DenominatorNumber of tested private wells in a specified time period
How Are We Doing?Between 2011 and 2015, about 2.9% of 36,409 wells tested had concentrations of nitrate above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 milligrams per liter. Two counties had much higher rates of MCL exceedance, Cumberland (16% of wells) and Salem (11.2% of wells).
What Is Being Done?The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) became effective in September 2002. The PWTA requires the buyer or the seller of real property to test the well water prior to sale and review the results prior to closing of title. It also requires landlords to test the private well water supplied to their tenants and provide their tenants with a written copy of the results. Test results are provided to homeowners by the laboratory performing the analyses and are also sent to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The NJDEP notifies the local health agency when a well within its jurisdiction is tested under the PWTA. The data from the PWTA are used by NJDEP to assess the quality of the water from private wells throughout the state. Nitrate is required to be tested for in private wells in all 21 New Jersey counties.
Available ServicesIf 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 the NJDEP Office of Quality Assurance at (609) 292-3950 for information on laboratories certified to test drinking water or look for the information online at: [https://www13.state.nj.us/DataMiner] using the "Search by Category" option, select "Certified Laboratories", and search for "Certified Drinking Water Labs", "PWTA Laboratories Certified for Sampling", or "Laboratories Certified by Parameter". Testing is required for sale of residential real estate when a private well is the source of drinking water. For more information, contact the NJDEP Private Well Testing Program at (866) 479-8378 or visit: [http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/pw_pwta.html] Private Well Testing Act Frequently Asked Questions: [http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/pwta/pwta_faq.htm] NJ Private Well Testing Act Data Summary, by county, municipality, and 2 mile by 2 mile grid: [http://arcg.is/1CPkHyC] NJDOH Drinking Water Facts: Private Wells, [http://www.nj.gov/health/ceohs/documents/eohap/pw_faq.pdf] NJDOH Drinking Water and Public Health Project, [http://www.nj.gov/health/ceohs/sanitation-safety/drinking-water-public-health/] To inquire about New Jersey well permitting and regulation, contact the NJDEP Division of Water Supply at (609) 984-6831. For information on federal drinking water regulations, and other water safety issues, contact the United States Environmental Protection Agency Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.
Health Program InformationTo inquire about New Jersey well permitting and regulation, contact the NJDEP Division of Water Supply at (609) 984-6831. 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.
Page Content Updated On 11/16/2016, Published on 09/28/2017