On Friday October 28, 2022 you received notice from the Water and Sewer Department of The City of Cape May. This letter of noncompliance was required and written by N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), for exceeding a newly established range for pH levels 4 times during the first five months the new level was in place. The range was changed from 6.8-8.8 to 7.0-8.0. The new range was established in 2021.
The City of Cape May conducts by-weekly testing for pH levels. Of the bi-weekly tests conducted under the new standards in 2021, there were 4 instances noted by the NJDEP that did not comply with the new standards. However, these results complied with previous standards which have been in effect since 1998. This new narrower range is generally within our normal operational range.
Additionally, these 4 results were noted on the higher level of the pH range which is closer to the pH level of bottled water available for sale at convenience stores. These higher pH levels also are well above the levels where leaching ever becomes a concern. For that reason, at no time was the City of Cape May Water Department concerned for the safety of the drinking water. If there was any doubt regarding safety, immediate action would have been taken.
Since being notified, the City Water Department has actively coordinated with the NJDEP regarding the notification to be delivered in connection with these results. Because there was no immediate threat to public health and safety, the City and NJDEP worked through the required notification to be delivered in connection with these results. The notification format was handed down by the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water. Despite our attempts to make the letter more informative and direct on what occurred, The Bureau requires specific language regardless of the actual levels noted.
Since receiving notification from the NJDEP, we immediately updated our testing to confirm that our water remains compliant with the new pH range levels, and since implementing these changes all test results are within the new range.
Cape May’s distribution system does not contain any lead and has never had a lead or copper action level exceedance. Again, the pH levels noted in these 4 results were closer to bottled water and were far from any levels where leaching becomes a concern. Informationally, our historical lead sampling results have been well below the 90th percentile action level of 15 part per billion (ppb).
The safety of the City’s drinking water is the #1 priority of this department and for these reasons I never doubted the safety of the City’s water.