What to Test For

Two scientists in protective suits taking water samples from the river.


Total and Fecal coliform bacteria tests should be done at least yearly. Fecal Coliform bacteria are a serious health concern. If fecal coliform is present, the water should not be used for drinking or cooking purposes. Total coliform bacteria in the water indicate that other potential disease causing organisms may be present in the water and is, therefore, a health concern.

Inorganic Parameters

The current inorganic parameters tested for include: Acidity, Silver, Alkalinity, Arsenic, Barium, Calcium, Cadmium, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Fluoride, Iron, Hardness, Mercury, Magnesium, Manganese, Sodium, Lead, pH, Selenium, and Zinc. These parameters can impact health and or affect the quality and taste of a particular well water.


Nitrates or Nitrites in drinking water can be very dangerous, even deadly to infants. Excessive nitrates or nitrites in drinking water cause blue-baby syndrome, or methemoglobinemia. These substances can enter the well from wastewater, manure, or fertilizers. Boiling water contaminated with nitrates/nitrites can increase the concentration of nitrates/nitrites significantly.

Volatile and Semivolatile Organics and Semi-Volatile Organic Chemicals

This category contains a wide variety of petroleum based products. If you have underground storage tanks (UST) on your property, your well is near a neighbors (UST). If you live near (within 1500') of a business with a (UST) or is industrial in nature or your well is near a landfill, it is recommended that the well be tested for this category of contaminants.


If your well is located within 25' of a building foundation that has at any time been treated for termites or you live in an area that was historically farmed this category is recommended. This category will also screen for lawn chemicals and herbicidal sprays. 


This metal is in the inorganic parameter profile. Copper is responsible for the blue/green stains seen on sinks toilets etc. These stains are typically coming from piping or fixtures within the house. When water has a low pH and low alkalinity copper is leached into the water.


Iron in drinking water can cause laundry to turn a reddish brown color and may cause a bitter metallic taste in the water. Iron is necessary in your daily diet but in excessive amounts it can be harmful to your health. Manganese is often a problem when iron is present in the water.

These are a few ideas to help you assess your well testing needs.  For more Information Contact Mecklenburg County Health Department at 980-314 - 1680.