July 27, 2008

Well Construction Must Get County Approval

By Sharon McBrayer, The News Herald, Morganton, N.C.

Jul. 26--MORGANTON -- If you're going to build a well soon, you or your driller will have to visit the county offices first.

A new state law that went into effect on July 1 says any new well, no matter what kind, will have to have the county's approval before, during and after it is completed.

People who want to construct a well must apply to the county health department.

Nathan Hall, environmental health specialist for Burke County, said inspectors will come out to the site and help choose the best area for the well.

The site visit is to evaluate the topography, landscape position, available space and potential sources of groundwater contamination on or around the site.

After drilling begins, the county inspector will go back to the site to make sure the grout and casing is done properly, Hall said.

The inspector will return for a third time to make sure the well head is OK.

Once the well is complete, an inspector must test the water -- looking for bacteria, nitrates and inorganic chemicals -- before approving its use.

"It's a courtesy thing," Hall said about the water samples. "It lets them know what kind of water they have."

For example, iron is the most common contaminant in well water in Burke County. If someone knows the level of iron in their water, they can get a softener to combat the problem, Hall said.

The cost for a permit to construct a well is $225.

Repairing or abandoning a well also has to be inspected, but that service is free.

The new rule is, if you do anything to a well, other than replace the pump or disinfect it, you need a permit, Hall said.

A construction permit is good for a period of five years, according to the legislation, House Bill 2873.


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