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Well Program FAQs

Well Program FAQs

I have a well, where does my water come from?
Basically, a well is a hole drilled into the ground to access water contained in an aquifer. Aquifers are typically made up of gravel, sand, sandstone, or fractured rock, like slate. Water can move through these materials because they have large connected spaces or fractures. A pipe and a pump are used to pull water out of the ground. In some cases, a screen is used to filter out unwanted particles that could clog the pipe. Wells come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of material the well is drilled into and how much water is being pumped out.

We rely on groundwater - it's the water we drink, the water that grows our food, the water that helps recharge our lakes and rivers. Groundwater is a VERY important resource!

While some groundwater contaminants are naturally occurring, unfortunately, the majority of groundwater contamination is the result of human activity.


How do I get a well permit?
To obtain a well permit in Union County, you first must submit a completed application, site plan and fee. The well permit application can be found on the Union County Environmental Health web page. Instructions are included in the application packet.


What tests should be done on my well water?
Owners of private wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe from contaminants. Private wells should be checked on a regular basis for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of coliform bacteria, nitrates, and any other contaminants of local concern.

Recommended Testing Schedule

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

Click here for additional information on water testing.


Where do I get my water tested and how much does it cost?
Well water sampling and testing is offered through Union County Environmental Health. We are located at: 500 N. Main Street, Suite 47, Monroe, NC 28112.

Environmental Health offers a variety of common well water testing such as bacteriological, inorganic, nitrate/nitrite, petroleum (VOC’s), pesticide, herbicide, fluoride, and others.

Inorganic testing includes analysis for alkalinity, arsenic, barium, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, fluoride, hardness (T), iron, lead, manganese, magnesium, mercury, pH, Selenium, Silver, Sodium, and zinc.

A list of Union County Environmental Health fees (including water sampling) is available online.


My water is cloudy, what should I do?
Cloudy water can be caused by several factors. Does the cloudiness occur after heavy rain or recent flooding? Has there been an increase in water pressure? After a glass of water is allowed to sit for a period of time, does sediment accumulate at the bottom of the glass? To determine the cause of the cloudiness, contact a North Carolina Certified Well Contactor or the Union County Environmental Health office at 704-283-3553.


What well water treatment options are available?
When considering water treatments we advise making decisions based on certified laboratory test results. Knowing what type and amount of contaminants are important when choosing the right treatment. You can submit a water sample request form to Environmental Health if testing is needed. Please refer to the following link for general water treatment options: How to select a water treatment system for your well water.


I want to install an irrigation system in my yard, will my well go dry?
Wells should have an information plate that is attached to the well casing or slab. This information includes depth of well and production (gallons per minute). The static water level (depth to water from the surface) and depth of the pump is also important to consider the amount of water available regardless of water production. There are approximately 1.5 gallons of water per 1-foot column of water in a 6 inch well. If this information is not available, you can contact a well contractor to conduct measurements. When calculating your water demand, we advise allowing for at least 120 gallons per day for each bedroom of a residence. Do you have an on-site septic system? All water lines must be installed at least 10 feet away from any part of the septic system. A compliance inspection is required by Environmental Health if irrigation is being installed on a property that is served by an on-site septic system. If an irrigation system is installed within the area that the septic system is located, this could lead to contaminating your drinking water and/or the groundwater supply.


We have young children and are moving to a house with well water. Should we be concerned?
As a general rule, all well users should test their water on a regular basis to make sure their water is safe. Recommended tests include bacteria, inorganics, nitrates, petroleum and pesticides (other tests are available as needed). Children and infants can be especially impacted by certain contaminants and we advise specific tests for these concerns. Nitrate testing should be performed on wells that will be used for infants and young children. High levels of nitrates can cause “blue baby syndrome”, which affects how oxygen is transported in the blood. Lead and fluoride levels are also evaluated as part of the inorganic test. Exposure from lead is usually associated with leaching from plumbing fixtures. Appropriate fluoride levels are important for children’s dental health.


I’ve heard my neighbor has arsenic in his well water. What can be done about that?
Our recommendation would be to first sample your water to determine if arsenic exceeds the US Environmental Protection Agency standard of 10 ppb (0.01 mg/L). There are a number of treatment options available depending on if you want to treat the water before it enters the home (whole house treatment) or at a specific location such as the kitchen sink (point of use). The concentrations of other contaminants in your water such as iron and manganese can impact treatment options. So, it is important to have a full inorganic panel analysis performed before deciding on specific treatment type(s).

Arsenic Virtual Trade Show

Arsenic Treatment Technology Evaluation Handbook


There’s an old well on our property that we don’t use anymore. Should we abandon it?
The short answer is, it depends. If the well is a safety issue or a potential source of contamination to the groundwater or other wells, it should be properly abandoned. A permit for well abandonment is issued by the Environmental Health office. In general, if the well is structurally sound, protected, not a potential source of contamination and in compliance with all setbacks, abandonment is not required.

Well Water Treatment Options and Costs


My well water has manganese in it. Should I be concerned?
The United States EPA has established a secondary standard of 0.05 mg/l which is intended to let the public know that manganese can affect water quality at this level. People often choose to treat the water if the concentration is above 0.05 mg/l because of the way manganese can affect the water's properties (color, taste, staining) at these low levels. It is considered a nuisance. Exposure to high concentrations of manganese over the years has been associated with toxicity to the nervous system, producing a syndrome that resembles Parkinsonism. Since manganese’s effect on a child’s developing nervous system has not been adequately studied, it is important that drinking water for pregnant and young children be below the manganese standard level. If a home/business owner has a well water concentration greater than 0.3 mg/l manganese, a water treatment system or bottled water consumption should be considered. This level is based on the EPA Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisories.


It seems like my well doesn’t produce as much water anymore. What’s going on?
A number of possibilities could contribute to this, the static water level could have dropped creating a smaller reservoir of water to pump, it could be a deficient pump or sediment could be filling the well and causing the water bearing fracture to be blocked. The well may have simply stopped producing water. Our recommendation would be to contact a certified well contactor to evaluate the well.


What are the setback requirements for wells?
The setbacks to potential sources of contamination are located in North Carolina Standards of Construction: Water Supply Wells 15A NCAC 02C .0107. Some of the common setbacks include: 50 to 100ft from a septic system; 25ft to a building foundation; 100ft from a sewer line; 50ft from a pond; 25ft from a creek.


I have public water but, want to drill a well for irrigation. Can I do that?
Yes, based on our local irrigation well ordinance, Union County Environmental Health will issue a permit for an irrigation well if all the required setbacks can be met. In addition, no (cross) connection to the public water supply can made with the well. To apply for an irrigation well permit, please submit a completed application, a site plan and the required fee.