"These are contaminants you can't see, you can't taste and can't smell," Evan Kane, Groundwater Protection and Wells Manager told ABC11. "Laboratory testing is the only way for sure to know the well water is safe for you."
Last summer, the county began an extensive education campaign hoping to reach as many as 20,000 residents in the eastern part of the county.
Environmental managers are warning up to 20 percent of private wells could be contaminated with what they call "naturally-occurring groundwater contaminants" including radon, radium and uranium.
"All the food you eat comes with ingredients list and nutrition facts on the labels and you should be paying attention to those things for your health," Kane said. "Water -- you can't assume it's clean and pure."
Early returns show an estimated 1,200 homeowners conducted water tests and sent them to private labs. Evans said that's good news - that total is more than the county conducts in three years -- but there are still an estimated 18,000 wells untested.
"There seem to be a few cases where there are clusters of contaminated wells but the results from one well don't have any bearing on the neighbor's results," Kane said. "We hope the penetration of our message is not the issue and people at least know the issue is out there."
The free water testing available to eligible homeowners and renters is available through Feb. 29.
In an email, county officials explain that qualifying families may have incomes up to 2.5-times the federal poverty level. For an individual living alone, the limit is $31,225, and a family of four may earn up to $64,375.
Applications can be submitted at one of Wake County's regional centers where staff will have forms on hand, and notaries are available on-site to certify affidavits free of charge.
The following locations are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
- Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon
- Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest
- Southern Regional Center, 130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina
Once Wake County staff are ready to collect well water samples, residents will be notified via the phone number listed on their application.
Residents may also apply without visiting a regional center. Forms and affidavits are available online as PDF files in English and Spanish. The N.C. Secretary of State maintains an online database of local notaries. Completed and notarized materials should be mailed to:
Wake County Environmental Services, Well Testing
P.O. Box 550
Raleigh, NC 27602.
The warnings and notices only apply to those residents who get water from a private well. If you pay a water bill, you may disregard this notice, because your water system is already being tested.