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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Well Water and Health

Testing Private Well Water

How often should a well be tested?

As a private well water owner, it is up to you to test your water to ensure that it is safe to use. Protect yourself and your family by testing your water regularly. We recommend the following schedule for water testing:

Every Year Test for total and fecal coliform bacteria.
Every Two 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.

What tests should you do?

Certain minerals or chemicals may be present in your water, depending on the geology and land use in your area. Many wells in North Carolina have too much lead, arsenic, iron, manganese, low pH, and harmful bacteria.

Special situations

If you are pregnant or have an infant at home, you should test your water for nitrates. If you have nitrates in your well water, do not drink the water or use it to prepare baby formula. Use an alternative source of water instead. Boiling water does not remove nitrates.

How do you get your water tested?

Procedures, fees and ordinances may vary from county to county. Contact the Environmental Health program at your local health department for information about the specific procedures to have your water tested.

Find your local health department.

Search for state-certified commercial laboratories for drinking water testing.