As required by law, the PWTA test results represent untreated (raw) water quality. The samples for the PWTA are collected prior to any water treatment system. In some cases, treatment systems may already be in place to remove or lessen the degree of contamination. The NJDEP’s new database accepts information regarding on site treatment, if applicable. If the homeowner treats the water, the PWTA test results do not reflect the drinking water quality that is being consumed after the water passes through the treatment system. When water sample results exceed drinking water standards, local health departments are notified and further post-treatment samples collected at a kitchen tap are recommended to determine the quality of the water consumed and to evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment system. Results of these follow-up samples taken by the buyer or the seller of a property are not required to be sent to NJDEP.
Contaminants Included in the Private Well Testing Act
The PWTA requires that all wells covered by the Act be tested for the presence of 29 primary drinking water contaminants:1 bacteria, nitrate, lead, and 26 volatile organic chemicals. Certain areas of the state are also required to test for three additional primary drinking water contaminants: arsenic, mercury and gross alpha particle activity. Testing for three secondary parameters (pH, iron and manganese) is also required. See Table E1 for the list of PWTA parameters.
Table E1: List of Private Well Testing Act Program Analytes
Bacteriological: Total Coliform (Fecal or E. coli)
With Optimum Range: pH
Organics: All 26 Volatile Organic Compounds with Maximum Contaminant Levels
With Recommended Upper Limits: Iron Manganese
Inorganics: Arsenic* Lead Mercury* Nitrates
Radiological: 48-Hour Rapid Gross Alpha Particle Activity*
*These parameters are required only in certain counties
The test results from the PWTA sampling are compared to the Maximum Contaminant Levels that have been established by the Federal and State drinking water regulations.
1 A primary drinking water standard protects public health by limiting the levels of contaminants in drinking water.