Without testing, it is impossible to know whether well water is safe to drink because many harmful contaminants cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Private well water is not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the well user is responsible for testing and maintaining the water quality.
The UNC Superfund Research Program (UNC SRP) is studying contamination from toxic metals in well water across NC, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and more. Launch the NC ENVIROSCAN mapping tool to explore environmental health impacts across the state.
Groundwater is water under the earth’s surface between rocks and soils. Groundwater begins as rain or snow melt that absorbs through plant roots, soil, and rocks. It then collects in the cracks of rocks and hollow spaces underground. Eventually, groundwater returns to the surface and flows to streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans where it can evaporate and again fall to the earth as rain or snow. This entire process can take many years.
Most private well water used for drinking comes from groundwater. All water, even water from deep underground, contains some contamination. These contaminants can enter groundwater from natural or human made sources and activities, such as: the erosion of natural mineral deposits, precipitation (rainfall or snowfall), run-off, and agricultural and industrial activities. Drinking water can be affected by activities close to the drinking water source or activities that occur many miles away.
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