Asheville and WNC Drinking Water Guide

asheville and wnc drinking water guide

If you are concerned about the quality of drinking water, either private or public, in the Asheville area, this article includes helpful information about testing, possible contaminants, and best practice maintenance tips.

In this article:

Public Drinking Water in the Asheville Area

Private Drinking Water in the Asheville Area

Preventing Lead-contamination of Drinking Water in the Asheville Area

For more information about Bottled Water.


Public Drinking Water in the Asheville area

Is it necessary to test Public Drinking Water?

Generally, no, because test results for public drinking water are already available; however, additional testing may be recommended for households with older plumbing- see more information below.

Where can I find the latest Asheville City Public Drinking Water test results?


The City of Asheville’s Water Quality, as of 2021, surpasses all EPA requirements. The City of Asheville claims to be ‘one of the purest water sources in the country, thus minimizing any chance of contamination.’

Access Asheville’s latest Annual Water Quality Report

Where can I find Public Drinking Water test results outside of Asheville?


The EPA requires community or public water systems to deliver a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as an annual drinking water quality report, to their customers each year by July 1st.  These reports describe where the water comes from and what is in it.

Find your Local CCR or Annual Drinking Water Quality Report

Find EPA Violation Reports of your Local CCR or Public Water Provider


How can I protect the quality of my Public Drinking Water in the Asheville area?

Generally, contamination of Public Drinking water happens within the home’s plumbing, but occasionally there are advisories from the Public Water Provider.

Review the CCL and sign up for Advisories and Notices from your provider (Public Water), including:

  • Review the most recent CCL or Annual Water Quality Report of your drinking water provider (Public Water)
  • Review any violation reports your drinking water provider may have received (Public Water)
  • Make sure you are receiving
    • Coliform Boil Water Advisories
    • E. Coli Bacteria Notices
    • Do Not Drink Orders
    • Do Not Use Orders
    • Other Public Notices

Maintain and repair the Home’s plumbing to prevent Bacteria:

  • Verify that all hose attachments (including at utility sinks, if present) are fitted with anti-siphon devices to prevent water contamination. 
  • If point-of-use water filtration systems are used, ensure they are correctly installed and maintained.
  • Maintain your water heater and expansion tank
  • Expansion tanks, if present, should not be ruptured. Water heaters should be set between 120F-140F or 49C-60C to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires Disease.
  • Flush your water heater annually

Prevent Lead Contamination

  • See below

Preventing Lead-Contamination of Drinking Water in the Asheville area

The City of Asheville, Drinking Water and Lead:

To summarize, the City of Asheville claims that the quality of its Public Drinking Water quality is excellent, however, it may become contaminated by the plumbing of older homes.

The City of Asheville has provided this advisory regarding the possibility of lead contaminants in the drinking water:

The City of Asheville on Lead Awareness:

If present, elevated lead levels can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.  Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing.  The City of Asheville is responsible for providing high-quality drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components.  When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.  If you are concerned about lead in your water you may wish to have your water tested.  Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or this website.

To minimize corrosion in service lines and customer home plumbing, the City of Asheville has effectively implemented a system-wide corrosion control treatment process. Homes and businesses at risk for lead in the water have lead or galvanized service lines and lead solder in copper pipes.  The new Lead and Copper Rule Revisions require the City of Asheville to build a service line inventory including the customer side of the meter.  We are asking customers to call 828-259-5962 to set up an appointment for a city representative to check the service line coming into their residence.

Older Homes and Lead in the Asheville area:

 

Lead pipes are more prevalent in older cities and homes built before 1986.  Prevent Lead poisoning by replacing older plumbing materials such as:

  • Lead and galvanized water distribution pipes
  • Brass or chrome-plated faucets
  • Lead solder in copper pipes

Older Homes with Private Wells and Acidic Water are at higher risk of Lead Contamination.

 

The risk of leaching metals is more of a concern with acidic water.  For this reason, cities try to neutralize acidity in drinking water (according to Asheville’s 2021 Water Quality Report, the pH of the drinking water was 7.62, which is basic or alkaline). 

Around 15% of the homes with private wells in  Buncombe County and the surrounding area are estimated to have acidic water (see pH below). It is crucial that private drinking water is tested annually for adequate pH and is repaired or maintained as needed- especially for older homes with older plumbing materials.

 

Private Drinking Water in the Asheville area

NC Private Well and Spring Water considerations

About 1/3rd of all North Carolina residents rely on private wells and springs for their drinking water- this is the second-highest percentage in the country after Pennsylvania.  The NCDHHS provides NC county reports showing the average concentrations of contaminants found in a sample of private wells in a study conducted between 1998-2010.  Builder Buddy offers Well Inspections and Bacteria/Full scan water testing in Asheville and WNC. 

What are common contaminants in Buncombe County Private Well water?

    Bacteria (E. Coli, coliform, etc.)

      • Bacteria are listed under the EPA’s Primary Standards, and bacteria are known to cause health issues. 
      • Especially common with vacation rentals, second homes, and vacant homes
      • The most common repair is a ‘chlorination’ and a retest
      • In some cases, a UV filter is recommended
      • We estimate that about 15% or more of the well water we test is high for Bacteria

      According to the NCDHHS Buncombe County Private Well Contaminant Map:

      Lead

      • 2.39% of private wells in Buncombe County tested high
      • Lead is a known health hazard and is regulated under EPA’s Primary Standards

        Iron

        • 33.5% of private wells in Buncombe County tested high
          • Iron is listed under EPA’s Secondary Standards and is considered a ‘nuisance’ and not a health hazard
          • Iron can affect the water’s odor, taste, and color. 
          • Iron can cause staining of fixtures.
          • Iron can leave mineral deposits, restrict flow, and affect hot water systems.

          Manganese

          • 18.02% of private wells in Buncombe County tested high
            • Manganese is listed under EPA’s Secondary Standards and is considered a ‘nuisance chemical’ and not a health hazard

            pH:

            • 14.95% of private wells in Buncombe County tested out of range or as acidic
              • Acid water or Soft water with a low pH is treated with neutralizing filters containing mineral hardeners to raise the pH and prevent corrosion (most common in our area)
              • Alkaline water or Hard water with a high pH is treated with Water Softeners or filters with salt or brine tanks to help the excess calcium and magnesium with sodium ions.
              • pH imbalances are listed under EPA’s Secondary Standards and are considered a ‘nuisance’ and not a health hazard
              • pH imbalances can affect the odor and taste and can have corrosive effects
              • Well water with high acidity tends to be corrosive to pipes and can leach metals

              How Often Should Private Drinking Water be tested in the Asheville area?


              Owners of private wells or spring systems for drinking water are responsible for their own drinking water testing.

              The EPA recommends testing every year.

              North Carolina DHHS recommends regular 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 applied in your area, test it yearly.

              What should Private Drinking Water be tested for in the Asheville area?


              The EPA recommends testing every year for

              • Total Coliform Bacteria
              • Nitrates
              • Total Dissolved solids
              • pH Levels
              Homes with private wells in WNC should test for Bacteria, Lead, Iron, Manganese, and pH because these are often out of range in our area (see above).

              Where can Private Drinking Water be tested?

              There are three options for private well or spring drinking water testing in the US:

              1. County Water Testing (Environmental Health Department)

               

              Testing through the County Health Department is generally the best option for homeowners who do not have time constraints (not during real estate transactions). County Health Departments have programs to help residents test through the State Laboratory (every US state has a State Laboratory that tests drinking water according to EPA standards).  To test your water with the State Laboratory, contact your local health department (please do not contact the State Laboratory directly) – your county health department will send in your sample, along with the correct forms. The State Laboratories are excellent and reliable water testing resources for residents with private wells or spring water.  Fees, procedures, and ordinances vary from county to county.

              Buncombe County Water Testing Contact
              NC County Water Testing Contact

              Advantages of County Water Testing

              County/State water testing is affordable and convenient. Water testing is accurate and reliable—the State Laboratories test for all contaminants on EPA Primary and Secondary Standards lists.


              Disadvantages of County Water Testing

              Turnaround times can be slow (6 weeks or more), which is inconvenient during real estate transactions.

              2. Private State-Certified Lab Water Testing

              US Private State-Certified Lab Contacts

              NC Private State-Certified Lab Contacts
              Advantages of Private State-Certified water testing

              Accurate laboratory testing by a certified lab.  No other real advantages over State Laboratories.

              Disadvantages of Private State-Certified Water Testing

              Private State-Certified labs are used primarily by larger organizations- water testing for individuals by these labs is generally expensive and inconvenient and has longer turnaround times. Private State-Certified Labs typically are specialized and do not test for everything that may be on the EPA’s Primary Standards list (many of them outsource or send to other sister labs, which can drive up costs and turnaround times).

              3. Labs that are not State-Certified

              Advantages of Water Testing through Labs that are not State-Certified

              Convenient, intuitive online ordering, affordable, quicker turn-around times. This may be the best option during a real estate transaction.

              Disadvantages of Water Testing through Labs that are not State-Certified

              These chemical tests (Hach/colorimetric) are often less accurate and reliable than laboratory testing.  These laboratories are not certified or regulated.  These companies typically test for only a limited number of contaminants.

              How can I protect the quality of my Private Drinking Water?

              Prevent Bacteria

              Maintain and repair the Home’s plumbing to prevent Bacteria:

              • Well-pressure-system equipment should be serviced and maintained annually
              • Verify that all hose attachments (including at utility sinks, if present) are fitted with anti-siphon devices to prevent water contamination. 
              • If point-of-use water filtration systems are used, ensure they are correctly installed and maintained.
              • Maintain your water heater and expansion tank
              • Expansion tanks, if present, should not be ruptured. Water heaters should be set between 120F-140F or 49C-60C to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires Disease.
              • Flush your water heater annually

              Prevent Lead Poisoning

              Lead pipes are more likely found in older towns and homes built before 1986.  Prevent Lead poisoning by replacing older plumbing materials such as:

              Other Best Practices

              • Drinking Water should be tested annually or as needed (see above)
                • If the house is left vacant for some time, test it again
              • Acidic water should be neutralized mainly in older homes, to help prevent leaching metals and possible lead poisoning
              • Avoid these common mistakes which are common in our area
                • The number one mistake of homeowners in our area is failing to maintain the Well equipment and/or water filtration equipment
                • Unsealed openings at the wellhead or spring box
                • Grade slopes toward wellhead or spring box
                • Moldy well head enclosure or insulation (we recommend Well insulation bags)
                • Fertilizers or chemical treatments or storage near the wellhead or spring box
              • Well systems should be serviced and inspected annually or as needed
                • Follow up with all the contractor repair recommendations
                • Whole house water filtration equipment must also be maintained annually or as needed

              Well Inspections and Water Testing in Asheville and WNC

              Our Company, Builder Buddy Inspections & Testing, provides Well Inspections, Septic Inspections, Water Testing, and other Inspection services.  We are a highly-rated Well Inspection company based out of Asheville that provides high-quality inspection and testing reports and services.  If you are located within 40 miles of Asheville, call us today to set up an appointment or schedule here.

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