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Water Quality

About 90% of people in the U.S. get their water from a community water system versus a private well. New Jersey has over 600 community water systems which provide drinking water to approximately 87% of the State's population. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets regulations for treating and monitoring drinking water delivered by community water systems. Currently, there are water quality standards and monitoring requirements for over 90 contaminants. In New Jersey many water quality standards are set more stringently by the NJDEP.
Water is used for many purposes such as drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning, and recreation. Because water is so common in daily life, there are many opportunities for contaminated water to impact people's health.
There are many ways in which contaminants can enter a drinking water system. Human activities such as farming, livestock operations, pest control, and manufacturing processes use chemicals that can pollute our drinking water. Contaminants can also enter water supplies from naturally occurring chemicals and minerals in soils and rocks such as arsenic, radon, radium, and uranium. Other times, sewers overflow, wastewater treatment plants malfunction, or other accidents happen that can contaminate drinking water. Contaminants in drinking water can lead to a number of health issues, such as gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. It is important to remember that the type of health issue and its severity depends on the contaminant type, its concentration in the water, and an individual's exposure duration.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies share responsibility to protect drinking water provided by public water systems and to make sure it is safe for consumption (see U.S. EPA Drinking Water Contaminants - Standards and Regulations).

There are no federal or state regulations assuring the quality of the water consumed by NJ residents who obtain their drinking water from private wells. The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) assures that the purchasers and lessees of properties served by private potable wells are aware of the quality of their drinking water source prior to the sale or lease of a home or business. Sampling and testing must be conducted by certified laboratories.
Water contamination affects everyone, but certain people are more susceptible to its effects. Sensitive populations include children, pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, and older adults.
Be informed about your water by reading your annual Consumer Confidence Report (sometimes called a Water Quality Report) about your public water system. Copies of the report are available through your water supplier, at libraries, and municipal offices.

If you are among the 13 percent of New Jersey residents who use their own source of drinking water, like a well, cistern, or spring, you are responsible for protecting and monitoring your water supply. It is essential that you test your water periodically, and maintain your well.

Be observant about your water by being aware of announcements in the local media about local activities that may pollute your source water.

Call 911 if you see suspicious activity in or around your water supply.

Be involved with your water by attending public hearings about new construction, storm water permitting, and town planning. Ask questions on any issue that may impact your water source.

Prevent water contamination by reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides around your home and property. Be aware of what you put into your septic system; chemicals may enter your drinking water.

For more suggestions, see the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's list Water Resources Page.
The NJDEP tracks water quality for community water systems and private wells in New Jersey. The New Jersey Environmental Public Health Tracking Program receives drinking water data, for both public water supplies and private wells, from the NJDEP's Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) Exchange Network.

The frequency of community water system testing depends on factors such as the number of people served by a drinking water system, the type of water source, and the types of contaminants. Certain contaminants are tested for more frequently than others.

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 Thu, 23 May 2024 1:22:31 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

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