New well water testing bill follows WNCN investigation - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

New well water testing bill follows WNCN investigation

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A new bill emphasizing the importance of testing private water wells was introduced in the North Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday as a result of WNCN's multi-part investigation "Poison in the Water."

The Private Well Water Education Act (H.B. 396) was introduced by state representatives Rick Catlin (R-New Hanover), Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe), Chris Millis (R-Pender) and Mark Hollo (R-Alexander) at the request of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla.

Read the Private Well Water Education Act.

There are existing federal and state laws governing public wells but that's not the case for private wells. The Private Well Water Education Act directs the Commission for Public Health to adopt rules governing the testing of private wells and the reporting of their results.

If passed, well owners across the state would see changes.

The bill requires local health departments to provide information to citizens constructing new drinking water wells regarding drinking water standards and the availability, scope and limitations of required and optional testing.

Many well owners are unaware of the fact that the current and standard well test is very basic and only checks for contaminants like bacteria.

The bill also directs the Commission for Public Health to develop rules that would require residents who attempt to drill wells near contamination sites to complete more extensive testing.

"You prompted this. This was driven by you and Governor McCrory. You came to me a month ago and suggested we had a groundwater contamination issue with private wells. I not only thanked you for bringing to it to our attention but I acknowledged we had a problem and I told you we'd do something about it. Now we've done something about it and we're continuing to do something about it. This isn't the end but it's a very strong beginning," Secretary Skvarla told WNCN Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman.

Huffman's "Poison in the Water" investigation uncovered the source of contamination in a Wake Forest community and exposed how state government failed to warn families that the water they were drinking could be killing them.

In July 2012, Wake Forest families learned they had been drinking a cancer-causing chemical for years. WNCN obtained internal government e-mails through a Freedom of Information request and revealed how state regulators knew about the contamination in 2005 but ignored their own evidence of the danger.  

Approximately 25 percent of North Carolina residents get their water from private well and there are thousands of known contamination sites across North Carolina where residents could be drinking dangerous chemicals.

The Private Well Water Education Act aims to stop situations like the one in Wake Forest from happening again.

"This bill addresses that issue in the sense that every new well has to be tested to a higher level. So, its not going to be an after the fact discovery. This is going to be a before the fact discovery."

The bill is expected to go to the house floor in the next few weeks.

Representative Rick Catlin tells WNCN he expects the bill to be easy to pass because it focuses on educating the public.

Charlotte Huffman

An award-winning journalist with an investigative edge, Charlotte has driven legislative change with reports on workplace safety concerns and contaminated groundwater. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

Poison in the Water

There are at least 2,000 sites statewide where DENR knows there is TCE contamination that is likely spreading into the water of unsuspecting families. More>>

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • SBI changes could affect 2016 NC gubernatorial election

    SBI changes could affect 2016 NC gubernatorial election

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:11:39 GMT
    McCrory quickly named an acting director for SBI Aug. 7, hours after signing legislation that shifted the agency to one of his Cabinet-level agencies, picking another one of his law enforcement leaders to fill the job.McCrory quickly named an acting director for SBI Aug. 7, hours after signing legislation that shifted the agency to one of his Cabinet-level agencies, picking another one of his law enforcement leaders to fill the job.
    A change in who the director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation reports to could have an affect on the 2016 gubernatorial election.
    A change in who the director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation reports to could have an affect on the 2016 gubernatorial election.
  • NC legislators approve regulating toxic coal ash

    NC legislators approve regulating toxic coal ash

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:36 PM EDT2014-08-21 00:36:33 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.
    North Carolina lawmakers have approved legislation they say makes the state the nation's first to address decades of toxic water pollution from residue left behind by coal-burning electricity plants.
  • State officials hear from both sides of NC fracking debate

    State officials hear from both sides of NC fracking debate

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 5:56 PM EDT2014-08-20 21:56:13 GMT
    People rallying outside ahead of Wednesday's public comment hearing on fracking.People rallying outside ahead of Wednesday's public comment hearing on fracking.
    Supporters and opponents of the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” are today getting an opportunity to voice their opinions on the process.
    Supporters and opponents of the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” are today getting an opportunity to voice their opinions on the process.
  • Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:57:58 GMT
    ETTRICK, VA (WSLS) - Police in Chesterfield are investigating reports of an overnight shooting near the Virginia State University campus.
    ETTRICK, VA (WSLS) - Police in Chesterfield are investigating reports of an overnight shooting near the Virginia State University campus.
  • Danville police investigate possible gang activity

    Danville police investigate possible gang activity

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:40 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:40:38 GMT
    Danville police said 8 people face charges of prohibited street gang activity in connection to an attack of a 49 year-old man.
    Danville police said 8 people face charges of prohibited street gang activity in connection to an attack of a 49 year-old man.
  • UPDATE: Wanted Roanoke Co. man found in woods

    UPDATE: Wanted Roanoke Co. man found in woods

    Friday, August 22 2014 2:55 PM EDT2014-08-22 18:55:46 GMT
    Tiffany and Joshua are now both in jail.Tiffany and Joshua are now both in jail.
    The Roanoke County man police have been looking for since Tuesday was caught in the woods Friday morning.
    The Roanoke County man police have been looking for since Tuesday was caught in the woods Friday morning.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.