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Oct. 7, 10:00 AM, Science Advisory Board meeting with focus on hexavalent chromium & other unregulated contaminants, Archdale Bldg, Ground Floor Hearing room, 512 N. Salisbury St. Raleigh

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Why and How to Test Your Well Water

By Bill Rubin, Guest Author

Over three million North Carolinians get their drinking water from private wells, but not all private wells provide safe, drinkable water. Nothing’s more important to your quality of life and health than having well water you KNOW is safe. Store-bought test kits don’t give you the detection level you need to ensure water safety, and generally only test for one or two possible contaminants. Luckily our state can help you test your water to be sure it’s pure.

In 2008, as a result of advocacy by Clean Water for NC and other safe water groups, as well as Environmental Health Directors, well water testing became mandatory for all new North Carolina wells. If your well was drilled after July 2008, then you can look up your original well water analysis with your county environmental health director or well program director, and request a new set of tests every few years, to be sure nothing’s changed. But if you have a well drilled before 2008, it might have never been tested for either bacterial or chemical contamination. We strongly recommend you invest the $150 to $200 to test for the most common bacterial and chemical contaminants, including contaminants like arsenic that occur naturally.

Clean Water for North Carolina recommends testing for total coliform, arsenic, lead, zinc, other metals, as well as nitrates, and nitrites every 3-5 years. This is the minimum standard statewide well testing recommendation. NC Health and Human Services has a similar recommended testing schedule.

How do you test? The first step is to call your county environmental health director. If you’re not sure what to test for, your county director or Clean Water for North Carolina can help with recommendations.

Unfortunately our legislature has cut well program budgets in recent years, removing subsidies and thus making tests more expensive.  This table will enable you to find your county’s  recent price schedule. Contact your county environmental director if you’re concerned about your ability to pay, as some counties offer assistance.

Read the full article here

Help Us Prevent EPA’s Rollback of Critical Coal Ash Protections!

At the only public hearing on April 25th near Washington, DC, dozens of public speakers strongly opposed the Pruitt EPA’s effort to slash coal ash protections for our waters and our health!

Public comment period on EPA’s proposed rule changes ends April 30th. Please email your written comments to Include “Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0286:” in your subject line.  For more details, please click here.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking comments by email on the Trump administration’s proposed major rollbacks of the Federal Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule. The CCR rule was established in 2015 to provide transparency with the public, safeguard human health, and protect our environment from coal ash pollution and disasters like the Dan River spill. Each year, hundreds of coal–fired power plants across the U.S. burn nearly a billion tons of coal, creating hundreds of millions of tons of coal ash, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, brain damage and other life-threatening illnesses.

The proposed CCR rule rollbacks would:

  • Slash important groundwater monitoring and reporting requirements.
  • Eliminate mandates to include public input in the decision making process for coal ash remediation and disposal.
  • Allow industry and political appointees to make critical decisions on coal ash management, including whether cleanup or closure is necessary.
  • Give polluters the authority to use “alternative” groundwater protection standards to determine when cleanup is required.
  • End the utilities’ required annual groundwater monitoring and reporting to the public.
  • Give states and polluters the discretion to ignore location prohibitions on coal ash dumping without public notification or oversight.
  • Allow unlined coal ash pits to be used indefinitely!

The Trump administration’s proposal clearly puts the interests of industry above the public’s health and the environment. Scott Pruitt praises the proposed rule changes for saving the industry up to $100 million, completely ignoring the costs in polluted water sources and health.

Please submit your written comments by Monday, April 30th! Tell EPA to protect the public from coal ash and preserve ALL of the basic, common sense protections provided by the 2015 coal ash rule!

The Dangers of Bottled Water

Bill Rubin, Guest Author

In speaking with residents in low income areas, Clean Water for NC has sometimes found homes where the parents drank tap water, but they bought bottled water for their kids. They figured that although bottled water was more expensive, it must also be safer. You can understand why that family might think so, given a number of high profile water contamination cases in pubic water systems, including the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In reality, that family would most likely have been safer sticking to tap water. Why is bottled water less safe? First Ill tell you why bottled water is more vulnerable to contamination, and secondly, how it is tested less frequently.

Water bottlers generally test for fewer contaminants than local water systems do. Storage is a problem tooplasticizers and antimony from plastic bottles can leach into water during extended storage or when exposed to heat. A variety of bottled products are not even subject to national drinking water standards. This includes water bottled and sold within the same state, filtered water, and carbonated water.

What about monitoring? The EPA regulates the safety of your local tap water system, creating safe water standards for allowable levels of contaminants. The Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water, in theory applying the EPAs same public water safety standards. But bottlers are required to test their water only once per year for physical and chemical contamination. Most residents public water is tested daily for large systems and quarterly for smaller systems.

If that low income family was concerned about safety, then bottled water was the wrong choice. Different bottled water brands have been recalled for health reasons dozens of times over the past several decades, but there are not always public notices. Unless your local water authority has issued a specific order about a drinking water problem in your system, its actually safest to stick to tap water.

Federal coal ash rule monitoring reveals high groundwater radioactivity at NC sites; EPA tries to slash requirements!

On March 2nd, the deadline passed for coal-fired power plants to post the results of their groundwater monitoring in an annual report that is required under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 coal combustion residuals (CCR) rule for storage and disposal of coal ash. The monitoring is required to determine the extent that the coal ash impoundments and landfills are contaminating groundwater. Concerning levels of radioactivity were found at 11 out of the 18 Duke Energy plants.

Among the highest was the Asheville Steam Station in Arden, NC at 38 times the federal radioactivity limit for drinking water. In addition to the alarming levels of radioactivity from radium, the results also showed that Duke Energy is contaminating groundwater with arsenic, lead, mercury, and many other toxic coal ash pollutants. Data in the 20,000 page annual report showed that the levels of toxic contamination often exceeded state and federal groundwater and drinking water standards in monitoring wells near many of Duke’s plants. The report provides irrefutable proof that the basins continue to leak and pollute neighboring groundwater supplies across the state.

Statewide Actions

Despite the staggering results from the annual reports, Duke Energy still plans to leave about 70% of its NC ash in the ground by capping it  in place. NC DEQ officials at the Division of Water Resource plan to review the data and compare it with background levels to determine if the contaminants could be naturally occurring.

Please call Governor Cooper at (919) 814-2000 and tell him to hold Duke Energy accountable for the results that show ongoing contamination at coal ash sites across the state. You can also email or call Jamie Kritzer, at DEQ Public Affairs,, with comments or questions regarding DEQ’s review of the groundwater data.

Federal Actions

In a deeply misguided effort, the EPA is proposing amendments to roll back the very rule that requires the groundwater sampling and release of this data! The 2015 CCR rule set a clear process with deadlines for utilities to assess groundwater conditions and potential human risks, to provide the public with timely data and information regarding those risks, and to take action to eliminate any unacceptable risks to the environment.

On March 1st, the EPA directly threatened impacted communities when Administrator Scott Pruitt signed the first of two rules that propose to amend the 2015 rule, saying the changes are expected to save industry between $32 million and $100 million per year.  EPA has proposed to revise the 2015 rule to allow coal ash to be used in the construction of cover systems for CCR units that are closed by capping the toxic waste in place. The EPA CCR decision is prioritizing industrial budgets over public health and the environment!

The EPA will accept written comments on the proposal through under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0286 for 45 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, and it plans to hold a public hearing to receive additional feedback on the proposal. In a status report submitted in November to the U.S. Court of Appeals, EPA had committed to a 90-day public comment period on its proposed revisions to the 2015 coal ash rule, so EPA is reneging on this promise with a 45 day comment period. This is outrageous, as EPA’s proposal could be devastating to impacted communities living near coal ash basins or receiving coal ash in nearby landfills.

Thank you – your action could make a critical difference to protect NC’s groundwater and well users!