The free bottled water that has been offered for months in Paulsboro in response to a contaminant in the water supply will come to an end Saturday.
The discontinuation follows a letter from the state Department of Environmental Protection to the borough Water Department last month lifting a water advisory.
The department "does not believe it is necessary to continue the restriction on the consumption of drinking water in Paulsboro," said the Oct. 3 letter from Fred Sickels, director of the DEP's Division of Water Supply and Geoscience.
In January, the DEP advised families not to give the water to children younger than 1 because of the presence of an unregulated contaminant - perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) - in Well No. 7. The letter noted that the affected well was no longer in use.
The well was shut down in April, when two other wells that had been treated for naturally occurring radium, a regulated contaminant, were put back into use.
PFNA, a perfluorinated compound, is an emerging contaminant not regulated by the state or federal governments, though potential water standards in New Jersey - at levels much lower than the highest detected in Paulsboro - are being considered.
The level in Paulsboro - 150 parts per trillion - was described in a DEP report as "higher than reported elsewhere in the world" in drinking-water studies.
The state has a guidance level for a sibling chemical - perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - of 40 parts per trillion. A scientific panel that studied PFOA found "probable links" to illnesses including kidney cancer and thyroid disease.
The PFNA contamination has prompted four other towns to shut down public wells - West Deptford, Greenwich, East Greenwich, and Woodbury. The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has agreed to investigate the presence of PFNA in the region, in conjunction with the state Department of Health.
Solvay Specialty Polymers, the West Deptford plastics company believed responsible, has denied liability. The company, about two miles from Well No. 7, stopped using PFCs voluntarily in 2010.
Solvay has investigated the extent of the contamination in cooperation with the state, and made the free bottled water in Paulsboro available through a hardware store.
David Klucsik, a Solvay spokesman, said Friday morning the bottled water would end Saturday.
Water will still be supplied to people whose private wells are being tested, he said, such as those in West Deptford, where some wells have elevated levels of PFNA.
Some residents have filed suit against the company.
Paulsboro Borough Council held an executive session Thursday night to discuss its own pending litigation against Solvay. Officials would say only that talks were continuing.
"The fact that negotiations are continuing, I think, says something about the parties certainly being earnest in their approach," Klucsik said.
At for the end of the bottled water distribution, Mayor W. Jeffery Hamilton said he trusted the DEP's advice, saying the development was a sign of improvements.
"Our water is good water," he said.
Not all saw it that way.
Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said Solvay should keep supplying water to residents until there is a treatment system to filter PFNA from the affected well. If there are problems with the radium-treatment system at the other wells, she said, Paulsboro will be in the same position it was in earlier this year.
"They don't have any fallback position," she said.