Groundwater Quality Monitoring

Long-term Monitoring Programs

Piedmont Mountain Groundwater Resource Evaluation Program

The Groundwater Resource Evaluation Program is a long-term monitoring program that provides baseline groundwater conditions within define geologic environments, and it can be used to evaluate water quality trends.

Groundwater from both deep and shallow aquifer systems is collected from clusters of monitoring wells throughout the State. The monitoring well network design is intended to provide adequate coverage both geographically and geologically for a complete characterization of ambient groundwater quality.

Land Application Self Monitoring Program

The Division of Water Resources' Land Application Program regulates the land-based disposal of wastewater and residuals generated by single family residences, industrial processes, municipalities, groundwater remediation, and certain other activities.  At each permitted facility where groundwater monitoring is required, a network of monitoring wells is installed at the review and compliance boundaries.  A single monitoring well is also installed in the up-gradient direction of the groundwater flow that serves as a background quality well.

Groundwater Contamination Incident Management Program

The objective of monitoring conducted under the Groundwater Contamination Incident Management Program are to determine water quality standards attainment, identify sources of contamination, and monitor compliance with requirements for remediation at sites where groundwater has been contaminated in violation of the groundwater standards in 15A NCAC 2L.

Depending on the nature and source of the contamination, the incident may be managed by the Division of Waste Management or the Water Quality Regional Operations Section of the Division of Water Resources.  The Division of Waste Management is responsible for managing  most contaminated sites caused by industrial activities, spills, dumping, and hazardous waste disposal.  The Division of Water Resources is responsible for contamination due to agricultural activities, land application of wastewaters and residuals (including animal waste), and naturally-occuring contamination.

Private Well Water Quality

Under the statewide private well testing program administered by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and local health departments, all new private drinking water wells are sampled by local health departments and analyzed for a standardized list of chemical constituents by the State Laboratory of Public Health in DHHS. In addition to their value to individual well users, these samples are the most abundant source of data on the status groundwater quality across the state. Regular, periodic examination of status indicators developed from this dataset provides information on human impacts on groundwater quality, the quality of groundwater consumed by North Carolinians, and potential impacts of groundwater on surface waters.

National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) Program

From 1974 to 1980, the Federal Government systematically evaluated the uranium resources of the conterminous United States and Alaska. Earth science research in the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program included hydrogeochemical and stream sediment sampling, coordinated rock sampling and analyses, airborne radiometric and magnetic surveys, geologic map compilation, ore deposit studies, subsurface geologic investigation, technology applications studies, development of resource estimation methodologies, and uranium resource evaluations incorporating research results. 


Current/Recent Groundwater Investigations

Isolated Wetland Study

Although the importance of the ecological and functional value of wetlands in the landscape is well documented, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge of "isolated" wetlands, especially in regards to water quality and hydrology.  It is rare that isolated wetlands are truly isolated from a hydrologic perspective as many are connected to other surface waters by groundwater flow.  However, few studies have been done which characterize the hydrological connection of geographically isolated wetlands.  In order to address these gaps, the Wetlands Program Development Unit of the Water Quality Permitting Section of DWR initiated a grant proposal with APS involvement to gain a better understanding of the hydrologic connectivity and pollution absorption capacity of these systems. The information gained from this study can be used to improve management decisions and provide better protection for these systems.

The Groundwater Planning Unit has two major objectives for this study:

  1. To determine the pollution absorption capacity of isolated Coastal Plain wetlands in order to improve understanding of the water quality function of these systems. Groundwater and surface water quality will be assessed in the isolated wetlands and downgradient.
  2. To identify and characterize the hydrological connectivity of isolated Coastal Plain wetlands in order to improve understanding of how these systems interact with and are connected to other surface waters.

Coal Ash Study

Link to a PowerPoint presentation:  Groundwater Monitoring at Power Plants with Coal Ash Ponds (Presented at the March 8, 2012 meeting of the Environmental Management Commission as an informational item)

Sandhills Pesticide Study

Historically, soil fumigants were used on peach orchards and other crops in the sandhills of North Carolina.  Soil fumigants remain in certain areas as legacy pollutants in groundwater.  Based on data collected from wells in the sandhills, the following fact sheet was created:  Soil Fumigants in Sandhills Groundwater.

Publications Archive

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