Testing Before Real Estate Transfers to Protect Private Well Users!

It is estimated that over 3 million North Carolinians use private wells for their drinking water, and NC has the fourth highest number of private well users in the country. While there is no statewide database tracking the annual number of real estate transfers in NC, it would not be a stretch to state that tens of thousands of properties are bought or leased annually without the buyer or lessee having any information on the quality of their property’s private well.

Because North Carolina law only mandates the testing of private wells that were drilled after July 2008, there is much that can be done to strengthen well user protection and NC DEQ’s understanding of the quality of our state’s groundwater. Passing legislation requiring the testing of private wells prior to real estate transfers would be a giant step in the right direction, and looking to New Jersey’s own Private Well Testing Act may provide insight on how this can be done here in NC.

In 2002, NJ became the first state to pass a law requiring that a home’s private well be tested prior to being purchased. For rentals, a lessor must also test the property’s well every five years, and provide the most recent results with the new tenant. Called the Private Well Testing Act, this consumer information law ensures that new homeowners or lessees are aware of sources of contamination in their private well before the real estate transfer takes place, allowing both parties to make informed decisions as to the potability of the untreated water. The NJ law requires the testing of both primary (arsenic, chromium, etc.) and secondary (manganese, iron) contaminants, as well as emerging contaminants like PFAS.

A safe drinking water supply is essential to human health as well as protecting the value of residential property. CWFNC’s Well User Protection  Campaign has been a cornerstone of our work for over 30 years, and we are exploring opportunities to promote not only this type of legislation here in NC, but other ways to strengthen protections for our state’s millions of well users.

If you would like to be a part of this work, consider joining our newly developed NC Well User Network! We look forward to sharing opportunities on how to advocate for strengthened groundwater protections and increased funding for tests.

If you have any questions or concerns about the quality of your private well, please contact Rachel Velez at rachel@cwfnc.org or 919-401-9600. Your county health department’s well program is also available to provide information and costs for testing. 

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