87-97. Permitting, inspection, and testing of private drinking water wells.

(a) Mandatory Local Well Programs. - Each county, through the local health department that serves the county, shall implement a private drinking water well permitting, inspection, and testing program. The local health department shall be the exclusive authority for the permitting of wells and well systems as described in G.S. 143-138(b17)(2). Local health departments shall administer the program and enforce the minimum well construction, permitting, inspection, repair, and testing requirements set out in this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article. No person shall unduly delay or refuse to permit a well that can be constructed or repaired and operated in compliance with the requirements set out in this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article.

(a1) Use of Standard Forms. - Local well programs shall use the standard forms created by the Department for all required submittals and shall not create their own forms.

(b) Permit Required. - Except for those wells required to be permitted by the Environmental Management Commission pursuant to G.S. 87-88, no person shall:

(1) Construct or assist in the construction of a private drinking water well unless a construction permit has been obtained from the local health department.

(2) Repair or assist in the repair of a private drinking water well unless a repair permit has been obtained from the local health department, except that a permit shall not be required for the repair or replacement of a pump or tank.

(b1) Inspections. - When a permit is issued under this section, the local health department shall be responsible for notifying the appropriate building inspector of the issuance of the well permit. The appropriate building inspector may request from the local health department the opportunity to inspect the activities authorized by the permit. The inspection must be performed prior to the final inspection performed by the local health department, and the well contractor shall not be required to be onsite for the inspection by the building inspector. If an inspection by a building inspector after the final inspection has been performed by the local health department is determined to be necessary for the protection of public health, safety, or welfare, the local building inspections department shall be responsible for (i) the additional costs for the inspection and related activities necessary for the inspection and (ii) any damages to the well system caused during the inspection.

(b2) Permit to Include Authorization for Piping and Electrical. - A permit issued under this section shall also be deemed to include authorization for all of the following:

(1) The installation, construction, maintenance, or repair of electrical wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment by a person certified as a well contractor under Article 7A of this Chapter when running electrical wires from the well pump to the pressure switch.

(2) The installation, construction, maintenance, or repair of water pipes by a person certified as a well contractor under Article 7A of this Chapter when running water pipes from the well to the water tank.

(3) The installation of both water pipes and electrical wiring in a single ditch by a person certified as a well contractor under Article 7A of this Chapter when running electrical wires from the well pump to the pressure switch and water pipes from the well to the water tank. The ditch shall be as deep as the minimum cover requirements for either electrical wiring or water pipes, whichever is greater.

This subsection shall not be interpreted to prohibit any person licensed by an independent occupational licensing board from performing any authorized services within the scope of practice of the person's license.

(c) Permit Not Required for Maintenance or Pump Repair or Replacement. - A repair permit shall not be required for any private drinking water well maintenance work that does not involve breaking or opening the well seal. A repair permit shall not be required for any private drinking water well repair work that involves only the repair or replacement of a pump or tank.

(d) Well Site Evaluation. - The local health department shall conduct a field investigation to evaluate the site on which a private drinking water well is proposed to be located before issuing a permit pursuant to this section. The field investigation shall determine whether there is any abandoned well located on the site, and if so, the construction permit shall be conditioned upon the proper closure of all abandoned wells located on the site in accordance with the requirements of this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article. If a private drinking water well is proposed to be located on a site on which a wastewater system subject to the requirements of Article 11 of Chapter 130A of the General Statutes is located or proposed to be located, the application for a construction permit shall be accompanied by a plat or site plan, as defined in G.S. 130A-334.

If the well location marked on the map submitted with an application to a local well program is also marked with a stake or similar marker on the property, then the local well program may not require the contractor to be on site during the on-site predrill inspection, as long as the contractor is available by telephone to answer questions.

(e) Issuance of Permit. - In accordance with G.S. 87-97.1 and G.S. 87-97.2, within 30 days of receipt of an application to construct or repair a well, a local health department shall make a determination whether the proposed private drinking water well can be constructed or repaired and operated in compliance with this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article and shall issue a permit or denial accordingly. If a local health department fails to act within 30 days, the permit shall automatically be issued, and the local health department may challenge issuance of the permit as provided in Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. The local health department may impose any conditions on the issuance of a construction permit or repair permit that it determines to be necessary to ensure compliance with this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no permit for a well that is in compliance with this Article and the rules adopted pursuant to this Article shall be denied on the basis of a local government policy that discourages or prohibits the drilling of new wells.

(e1) Notice for Wells at Contamination Sites. - The Commission shall adopt rules governing permits issued for private drinking water wells for circumstances in which the local health department has determined that the proposed site for a private drinking water well is located within 1,000 feet of a known source of release of contamination. Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection shall provide for notice and information of the known source of release of contamination and any known risk of issuing a permit for the construction and use of a private drinking water well on such a site.

(f) Expiration and Revocation. - A construction permit or repair permit shall be valid for a period of five years except that the local health department may revoke a permit at any time if it determines that there has been a material change in any fact or circumstance upon which the permit is issued. The foregoing shall be prominently stated on the face of the permit. The validity of a construction permit or a repair permit shall not be affected by a change in ownership of the site on which a private drinking water well is proposed to be located or is located if the location of the well is unchanged and the well and the facility served by the well remain under common ownership.

(f1) Chlorination of the Well. - Upon completion of construction of a private drinking water well, the well shall be sterilized in accordance with the standards of drinking water wells established by the United States Public Health Service.

(g) Certificate of Completion. - Upon completion of construction of a private drinking water well or repair of a private drinking water well for which a permit is required under this section, the local health department shall inspect the well to determine whether it was constructed or repaired in compliance with the construction permit or repair permit. If the local health department determines that the private drinking water well has been constructed or repaired in accordance with the requirements of the construction permit or repair permit, the construction and repair requirements of this Article, and rules adopted pursuant to this Article, the local health department shall issue a certificate of completion. No person shall place a private drinking water well into service without first having obtained a certificate of completion. No person shall return a private drinking water well that has undergone repair to service without first having obtained a certificate of completion.

(h) Drinking Water Testing. - Within 30 days after it issues a certificate of completion for a newly constructed private drinking water well, the local health department shall test the water obtained from the well or ensure that the water obtained from the well has been sampled and tested by a certified laboratory in accordance with rules adopted by the Commission for Public Health. The water shall be tested for the following parameters: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, iron, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nitrates, nitrites, selenium, silver, sodium, zinc, pH, and bacterial indicators.

(i) Commission for Public Health to Adopt Drinking Water Testing Rules. - The Commission for Public Health shall adopt rules governing the sampling and testing of well water and the reporting of test results. The rules shall allow local health departments to designate third parties to collect and test samples and report test results. The rules shall also provide for corrective action and retesting where appropriate. The Commission for Public Health may by rule require testing for additional parameters, including volatile organic compounds, if the Commission makes a specific finding that testing for the additional parameters is necessary to protect public health. If the Commission finds that testing for certain volatile organic compounds is necessary to protect public health and initiates rule making to require testing for certain volatile organic compounds, the Commission shall consider all of the following factors in the development of the rule: (i) known current and historic land uses around well sites and associated contaminants; (ii) known contaminated sites within a given radius of a well and any known data regarding dates of contamination, geology, and other relevant factors; (iii) any GIS-based information on known contamination sources from databases available to the Department of Environmental Quality; and (iv) visual on-site inspections of well sites. In addition, the rules shall require local health departments to educate citizens for whom new private drinking water wells are constructed and for citizens who contact local health departments regarding testing an existing well on all of the following:

(1) The scope of the testing required pursuant to this Article.

(2) Optional testing available pursuant to this Article.

(3) The limitations of both the required and optional testing.

(4) Minimum drinking water standards.

(j) Test Results. - The local health department shall provide test results to the owner of the newly constructed private drinking water well and, to the extent practicable, to any leaseholder of a dwelling unit or other facility served by the well at the time the water is sampled. The local health department shall include with any test results provided to an owner of a private drinking water well, information regarding the scope of the required and optional testing as established by rules adopted pursuant to subsection (i) of this section.

(k) Registry of Permits and Test Results. - Each local health department shall maintain a registry of all private drinking water wells for which a construction permit or repair permit is issued that is searchable by address or addresses served by the well. The registry shall specify the physical location of each private drinking water well and shall include the results of all tests of water from each well. The local health department shall retain a record of the results of all tests of water from a private drinking water well until the well is properly closed in accordance with the requirements of this Article and rules adopted pursuant to this Article.

(l) Authority Not Limited. - This section shall not be construed to limit any authority of local boards of health, local health departments, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Commission for Public Health to protect public health. (2006-202, s. 4; 2006-259, ss. 50(b), 50(c), 51; 2007-182, s. 2; 2007-495, s. 1; 2008-198, s. 1; 2009-124, ss. 1, 3; 2010-31, s. 10.10A; 2011-255, ss. 1, 2; 2012-187, ss. 12(a), (b); 2013-122, ss. 2, 3; 2013-413, s. 35(a); 2014-120, ss. 43(a), (e); 2015-241, s. 14.30(u); 2015-246, s. 3.5(a); 2016-113, s. 17(a); 2017-10, s. 1.3(a).)