Drinking Water Testing

NJIT Drinking Water Testing Interim Protocol

Background:

The City of Newark recently announced that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) found elevated levels of lead at thirty of the City's public schools.  In an effort to ensure safe drinking water for the university community, NJIT has recently initiated a drinking water sampling program.  To date, initial samples have been collected from all occupied NJIT buildings.  Initial sampling, additional follow up sampling, and system maintenance activities are described below.  NJIT will continue to take the necessary steps to maintain safe drinking water for the campus community.

Initial Sampling Strategy:

The sampling methodology and water system maintenance strategy being utilized is based primarily on US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations. 1   In their revised technical guidance document, the EPA recommends 2-step testing of drinking water.  The initial sample is collected after water has remained unused in the pipe or fixture for a minimum of eight (8) hours but not more than eighteen (18) hours.  This initial sample is known as a first draw sample.  Follow up sampling will be conducted at the same locations after flushing the plumbing fixture for approximately 30 seconds.  The second step sample is known as a follow up flush sample.

The initial group of buildings selected for sampling included all of NJIT’s residence halls.  Other buildings selected for initial sampling included older buildings that may have been built or renovated prior to lead standards changing for use in building materials in the 1980s.  Plumbing fixtures selected for initial sampling included those fixtures that are used most frequently, like drinking fountains and kitchen faucets.  Once collected, the initial samples were sent to a laboratory certified by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for drinking water analysis and to the City of Newark for analysis.  Additional testing is currently underway throughout the NJIT campus.

The US EPA and the NJ DEP recognize the 15 micrograms per liter (or 15 parts per billion) Action Level .1,2  This is the level of lead in drinking water above which certain actions are required including further testing, flushing the water system, and removing from service plumbing fixtures where a sample returned a result of 20 ppb or higher.

References:

1.      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools: Revised Technical Guidance. 2006.

2.      NJ Department of Environmental Protection.  Division of Water Supply, Bureau of Safe Drinking Water.  Federal and NJ Primary and Secondary Drinking Water Standards. 2005
 

                                                Initial Interim Control Plan:

In response to the results of the initial samples, NJIT has implemented the following interim control strategies:

·         Collect and analyze additional initial (first draw) samples from all occupied university buildings.

·         Collect and analyze additional follow up (flush) samples from all locations where initial sample analysis returned results higher than the US EPA/NJ DEP Action Level.

·         Sample locations will concentrate on drinking water fountains and pantry and kitchen plumbing fixtures.

·         Compare initial (first draw) and follow up (flush) sample results to help identify potentially problematic fixtures and the effectiveness of water system flushing.

·         Remove from service all drinking fountains and plumbing fixtures from buildings where sample analysis returned follow up results higher than the US EPA/NJ DEP Action Level until system flushing and further testing takes place.

·         Provide alternative source of drinking water in the form of bottled water for buildings where drinking fountains and kitchen plumbing fixtures were removed from service.

·         Post signs in locations where sample analysis returned results higher than the US EPA/NJ DEP Action Level indicating that water at this location should not be used for used for drinking or cooking.

·         Initiate a program of the replacement of drinking fountains or fixtures throughout the university if it is believed the source of the lead is within these fixtures.

·         Institute a systematic and regular protocol for ongoing sample collection and analysis as well as periodic water system flushing and maintenance.

·         Institute a comprehensive system-wide drinking water monitoring and control program.
 

                                               Drinking Water Mitigation Plan

In response to water the results of additional sampling, NJIT will accelerate the implementation of the Interim Control Plan that has been described previously.  Specifically, NJIT has begun to take the following remediation actions:

Continue to remove from service all drinking fountains and plumbing fixtures in buildings where sample analysis returned follow up results higher than the US EPA/NJ DEP Action Level.
Accelerate the replacement of problematic plumbing fixtures focusing first on drinking fountains and sink faucets in food preparation areas.
Continue to provide alternative source of drinking water, in the form of bottled water, for locations where drinking fountains and kitchen plumbing fixtures were removed from service.
Begin to install point of use water filtration devices, certified for the removal of lead from drinking water by the appropriate ANSI/NSF Standard, in locations where they may be most effective.
Accelerate all other aspects of the interim control plan, including the posting of signs, the flushing of drinking water systems, and the collection of additional water samples.
 

                                                  Reporting of Results

As previously communicated by e-mail, NJIT will continue to post results for samples that return laboratory results higher than the US EPA/NJ DEP Action Level.