The water people drink in NC comes from many sources!

Some residents drink groundwater from private or municipal wells, while others use treated surface water (from rivers, lakes, and streams, etc.) or spring water. Some of the problems that can affect drinking water for families in North Carolina are water contamination, high water bills, water outages or leaks, and poor service from a private company or government water supplier.

Clean Water for North Carolina has prepared this guide to help answer some questions about drinking water.


Publicly Owned Water System

(You pay a water bill to a city, county or other government)

Publicly owned drinking water supplies must meet water quality standards overseen by the NC Public Water Supply Section of the Department of Environmental Quality. Rates are usually set by elected officials or an appointed board (for a regional provider). Both groundwater and surface water are used by NC local governments to provide drinking water to residences and businesses.

For questions or complaints about your bill, water quality, or service, first try calling your water supplier directly. Changes to water rates, decisions about investments in the system, and other decisions are usually made at public government meetings. Get involved in decisions about your drinking water!

For unresolved water quality issues, contact your regional office of the NC Public Water Supply Section. Report problems with your water quality and request investigation. Request a copy of your annual water quality report, or to search for a copy of the report online

Protecting Your Private Well

(A well that serves less than 15 homes or 25 people)

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!

If your well was installed after July 2008 (when the state began to require licenses for new wells):

Report odd tastes or odors.

Request a copy of your water quality test results.

Request a copy of your well certificate

Request additional testing if needed (test every 3-5 years) by contacting your county well program

If your well was installed before July 2008, or if you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to have your well tested! No requirements were in place at the time.

CWFNC recommends testing your well for at minimum fecal coliform, arsenic, lead, zinc, nitrates, and nitrites. A full water test (required since 2008) would also include barium, cadmium, copper, fluoride, iron, magnesium, manganese, mercury, selenium, silver, sodium, and pH. Testing for contaminants known to be nearby is a good idea, too.

To get started, call your county’s health department—they can often help with testing at a reduced cost. They can also test spring water!