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What’s in Your Well? The Importance of Routine Testing!

by Olivia Eskew, Summer Duke Stanback Intern

Olivia Eskew, summer internFor the past 3 months, I have collected interview-based and literature review data on the status of well water quality and testing in North Carolina. My goal was to provide informative and brief outreach materials for each county environmental health department to better inform county residents on their well water quality, and for Clean Water for NC to use in our ongoing outreach efforts!

Did you know the state of North Carolina has the second highest number of individuals, 3.3 million, who rely on well water for their source of drinking water, behind only Pennsylvania? Although most groundwater is safe to drink, there are many sources of potential contamination of groundwater, and no requirement for routine testing! It is important for well users to test their water regularly, yet most wells in North Carolina have never been inspected or tested for more than coliform bacteria.

Common Misconceptions

Click here to learn about common misconceptions regarding well water quality and potential contamination.

Common Contaminants

Common contaminants in NC groundwater include total coliform, arsenic, manganese, sulfur, and lead. Too much of any contaminant – even a naturally-occurring one – can be harmful to human health.

How to Move Forward: What Can You Do?

Wells

Wells in North Carolina come in all shapes, sizes, and depths!


A) Call your local environmental health office and ask for the well program, or contact Clean Water for North Carolina if you are unsure of the appropriate point of contact for your area.

  • Get advice from your local well program on local contaminants, and/or explore the NC Source Water Assessment map to identify potential sources of contamination near you.
  • If your well was installed before July 2008, or if it was installed after 2008 but you have reason to believe your well water quality has changed, we recommend a full well panel sampling, inclusive of bacteriological and inorganic tests.

B) Groundwater Protection — Do not put chlorine in your well as part of routine maintenance. This should only be done if the well has been opened or to address bacterial contamination. Do an annual visual assessment of the well head in which the well seal should be airtight. Properly cap abandoned wells; otherwise, they present a safety hazard and a potential source of contamination.

C) Sampling Suggestions

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