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N.J. drinking water quality group to meet again next month

The state Drinking Water Quality Institute is evaluating a possible regulation for a chemical found in Gloucester County water supplies.

The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute will meet again next month, almost one year after the panel reconvened following a lengthy break that concerned many environmentalists.

The DWQI's April 8 agenda, posted Tuesday, calls for discussion of a timeline to finalize a recommendation for a regulation of a chemical that has been found in several Gloucester County towns. Members were tasked with evaluating the possible maximum contaminant level for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) - a type of perfluorinated chemical (PFC) - at their April 2014 meeting.

Before the 2014 session, the institute, an advisory panel to the state Department of Environmental Protection, had not met since 2010.

The presence of PFNA - a chemical not currently regulated by the state or federal governments - has compelled five towns in Gloucester County to shut down municipal wells due to health concerns. The chemical has also been found in private wells, prompting the DEP to install filtration systems on some supplies.

While the municipal wells remain offline, Paulsboro has reached a settlement with a West Deptford plastics company to provide a filtration system for its affected well. The company, Solvay Specialty Polymers, has denied liability for the PFNA spread.

If the DWQI recommends the PFNA drinking water standard, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin would need to propose it as a state standard. Some past recommendations by the DWQI have never been proposed, including one in 2009 for 1,2,3-trichloropropane, a contaminant that has surfaced in Moorestown.