Are you one of the more than 3 million private well users in NC? Most wells have never been inspected or tested for more than bacteria, even when state and local agencies knew of nearby contamination sites. CWFNC works for protection of groundwater and well users throughout the state.

The following information on private well testing in North Carolina is provided by the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services. You can find more information by visiting their website, or by contacting your county health department!

  • If your well was installed before July 2008, contact your local county health department to ask for testing recommendations based on your area, as well as pricing.
  • CWFNC recommends testing your well for at a minimum: Total Coliform Bacteria, Arsenic, LeadZinc, and nitrates/nitrite

When should a well be tested?

All newly constructed private wells in North Carolina (after July 2008) must be tested by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health or a certified laboratory prior to establishing the well as a source of drinking water. You can search for a certified lab in the link in the right sidebar.

Well owners should check the wellhead once a year to make sure it is working properly and ensure that there are no cracks or openings where contaminants can get into your groundwater. Well water should be tested after repairs or replacements to any of the well components and after flooding events, since contaminants may enter your well when it is opened or if the wellhead is underwater.

How often should I test my well water?

Every Year: Test for total and fecal coliform bacteria
Every Two Years: Test for heavy metals, nitrates, nitrites, lead and copper
Every Five Years: Test for pesticides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If you know a particular pesticide that is applied in your area, test yearly

Special situations that may require additional testing:

  • If you are pregnant or have an infant at home, you should test your water for nitrates. If you have nitrates in your well water, do not drink the water or use it to prepare baby formula. Use an alternative source of water instead. Boiling water does not remove nitrates.
  • If there are known problems with well water in your area,
  • If you have experienced problems near your well (i.e., flooding, land disturbances, and nearby waste disposal sites),
  • If you replace or repair any part of your well system,
  • If you notice a change in water quality (i.e., taste, color, odor).

What activities near my home can contaminate my well?

  • flooding;
  • surface run-off that carries pollutants through the soil and into underground water supplies (such as rainwater that washes off of parking lots and roadways);
  • agricultural activities;
  • erosion of mineral deposits;
  • decomposing waste;
  • construction activities;
  • toxic spills;
  • leaking storage tanks and landfills;
  • industrial discharges into surface waterways;
  • underground injection of waste products.

If you think you may have other sources of contamination near your well, including pesticide use or underground fuel tanks, ask your county well program about other well testing available.


Helpful Resources:

DEQ's Division of Water Resources
FAQs on well water contamination, testing, and how to get more info
Environmental Working Group primer on well water safety