skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - DENR Releases Groundwater Reconnaissance Well Water Sampling Summary - News


Blogs Blogs
Blogs »
DENR Releases Groundwater Reconnaissance Well Water Sampling Summary

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today posted a summary of results from a reconnaissance sampling of groundwater quality in the vicinity of Duke Energy’s Allen Steam Station, Buck Steam Station and Marshall Steam Station coal-fired power plants.

The study provides a limited evaluation of the distribution of metals and other parameters that may be naturally occurring in the groundwater, and that may also be associated with coal burning activities.
This study was managed by the DENR Division of Water Resources Mooresville Regional Office and involved the collection of samples from twenty-four (24) water supply wells near the above mentioned coal–fired steam stations. In accordance with the Coal Ash Management Act, the groundwater samples collected were analyzed for the same constituents and parameters as the private and public wells tested near coal ash facilities under the well water testing program, and in support of the comprehensive site assessments. Test well locations were chosen for this study based on the following criteria:

• Located in areas that are not hydraulically connected to groundwater beneath Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plant facilities
• Positioned across surface water and groundwater divides from the facilities
• Situated in the same geologic units as the coal ash impoundments and private wells already being tested near coal ash facilities
• Targeting “newer” water supply wells to minimize the influence of older, potentially poorly constructed wells or aging well maintenance issues that could affect the samples. The tested reconnaissance water supply wells were installed between from 1996 and 2013.

The water samples collected from the 24 wells were analyzed for heavy metals and the other parameters as the agency’s well water testing program. The results from the limited study were sent to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for health risk assessments.
The following are the results of the limited study:
• 13 well owners received “Do Not Drink” from the DHHS for exceedences for either DHHS’ health screening levels or state Interim Allowable Maximum Contaminant Levels, or IMAC. Twelve of the wells had exceedences for chromium 6 and vanadium, as well as one exceedance for iron and manganese.
• 7 well owners received “Do Not Drink” recommendations for vanadium and resample recommendations for chromium 6.
• 4 well owners received incomplete sample results with recommendations for resampling for chromium 6.
• 0 wells had exceedences of federal drinking water standards.

The source of contamination in a well, whether determined to be naturally occurring or not, does not influence its potential impact on health. Wells that exhibit constituent concentrations higher than the applicable health screening level, determined by the DHHS, may represent an increased health risk. Well testing results were sent to DHHS to perform a health risk evaluation, which have been mailed to residents along with potential well treatment options to remove or reduce contaminants from well water if needed. Individual results will be made available when DENR has confirmed receipt of results to well owners via certified mail.

Groundwater samples collected from the water supply wells in these study areas that met these criteria are believed to be representative of similar water quality conditions near the coal-fired plants in the DWR Mooresville Region.

While the groundwater reconnaissance study provides data for staff to develop a better understanding of background concentrations of metals and other parameters, limitations and additional factors must be taken into consideration:

• Concentrations of naturally occurring metals and other water quality parameters in groundwater can, in some cases, vary significantly over fairly short distances and depths in the subsurface
• Local groundwater quality is affected by a number of different variables, including but not limited to, the particular soil and rock chemistry in which a well is installed and the natural pH and oxidation state of the groundwater
• Well construction is an important consideration with respect to evaluating groundwater results since the turbidity of groundwater produced, the age, condition, depth and type of well casing used, pump and filtration equipment, position of the pump within a well, and the interval of an aquifer, or aquifers, affected by water production are all factors that potentially complicate the assessment of ground water site conditions
• Unknown susceptibility to other sources of impacts to groundwater such as septic systems and residential household and property applications of chemicals

While these factors limit the study results’ use as a statistical evaluation, the data is useful to illustrate the distribution of certain constituents throughout the area sampled.

In carrying out the Coal Ash Management Act, DENR is also overseeing a comprehensive groundwater assessment of drinking water wells near all 14 of the state’s facilities with coal ash ponds. The comprehensive groundwater assessments will be the driving force behind the agency’s efforts to determine whether any contaminants in wells are naturally occurring or from the coal ash ponds. DENR will require Duke Energy to provide well owners with alternative drinking water supplies if the agency determines any contamination came from the coal ash ponds.

Web Content Display Web Content Display


Coal Ash Press Releases and Advisories

June 5, 2015 NCDENR Press Release - State issues permits for coal ash reuse projects.

June 2, 2015 - State cites companies with permit violations at proposed coal ash reuse project site

May 29, 2015 - State investigating possible environmental violations at proposed coal ash reuse site

May 15, 2015 - Stormwater permits issued today represent critical step to close coal ash ponds

April 21, 2015 - Most results from drinking well tests show exceedences of state groundwater standards near coal ash ponds

April 15, 2015 - Residents near coal ash ponds to receive results of drinking water well tests, health evaluations

April 10, 2015 - State environmental agency to host public hearings on coal ash reuse projects

April 6, 2015 - MEDIA ADVISORY: Public hearing on draft environmental permits near coal ash ponds

March 23, 2015 - State environmental agency opens public comment period on coal ash reuse permits

March 12, 2015 - Public comment period starts on proposed stream and wetlands impacts for coal ash reuse projects

March 10, 2015 - State fines Duke Energy Progress a record $25.1 million for coal ash contamination at Sutton Plant

March 6, 2015 - State agency drafts permits to better protect water quality near coal ash ponds until closure plans are approved

February 25, 2015 - State continues pursuit of coal ash contamination issues at Asheville Plant

January 30, 2015 - One year later, Dan River continues successful recovery

January 29, 2015 - MEDIA ADVISORY: DENR Secretary and staff to sample Dan River nearly one year after coal ash spill

December 19, 2014 - Expanding energy opportunities and cleaning up coal ash are among top 2014 news items for state agency

December 17, 2014 - Letters from state invite residents near Duke Energy coal ash impoundments to have water tested

December 11, 2014 - Regulators authorize repairs to dam structure at Duke Energy coal ash impoundment

November 26, 2014 - State receives permit applications for reuse of coal ash at two clay mines

November 24, 2014 - Insects in Dan River downstream of Feb. 2 coal ash spill appear to be thriving, state tests show

November 18, 2014 - State environmental committee to meet next week in Charlotte on rules for reusing coal ash

November 11, 2014 - CORREX: State's reclassification of cooling pond means more environmental protections, dam inspections

Novemeber 6, 2014 - State directs Duke Energy to resubmit groundwater plans for coal ash facilities

October 18, 2014 - Drinking water receptor survey shows wells near Duke Energy coal ash facilities

Sept. 30 - Duke Energy submits plans for groundwater assessment at coal ash facilities

Sept. 3 - State raises hazard classification at coal ash dams in Lumberton

Aug. 28, 2:42 p.m. - State environmental agency details actions on coal ash in letter to citizens group

Aug. 13, 12:04 p.m. - DENR requires Duke Energy to address coal ash issues

July 10 - State issues operating permit for first phase of coal ash landfill in Person County

June 26, 3:45 p.m. - State orders Duke Energy to address final set of pipe systems at coal ash facilities 
June 18, 11:53 a.m. - State orders utility to address more piping systems at coal ash dams 
June 16, 2:49 p.m. - State orders Duke Energy to submit repair plans for leaking pipes near coal ash facilities
Mar. 28, 3:00 p.m. - State regulators cite Duke Energy for dam deficiencies at Cape Fear plant
Mar. 25, 3:34 p.m. - Crack in earthen dam at Cape Fear power plant fixed, state reports
Mar. 21, 4:41 p.m. - State environmental agency, EPA to pursue joint approach to coal ash clean-up
Mar. 21, 3:34 p.m. - State environmental agency asks to withdraw from consent order with Duke Energy, maintains lawsuit
Mar. 21, 2:08 p.m. - DENR approves emergency response plan to address crack in earthen dam at coal ash impoundment
Mar. 20, 5:51 p.m. - State regulators responding to report of crack in earthen dam at Duke Energy facility   
Mar. 20, 1:39 p.m. - DENR taking action against Duke Energy for violations of wastewater permit at Cape Fear plant
Mar. 18, 3:57 p.m. - Testing of latest water quality samples near coal ash spill similar to earlier results
Mar. 14, 2:26 p.m. - State environmental agency takes action to address deficiencies at three coal ash facilities
Mar. 13, 4:19 p.m. - State environmental agency demands more answers from Duke Energy
Mar. 7, 4:01 p.m. - State regulators release water quality test results from additional Dan River spill location
Mar. 6, 3:29 p.m. - NCDENR's statement on today's ash pond ruling
Mar. 6, 2:36 p.m. - DENR cites Duke Energy for dam deficiencies, requests repair schedule
Mar. 5, 1:09 p.m. State regulators to request plans, video of pipes at coal ash facilities and announce inspections
Mar. 4, 3:58 p.m. - Dam safety inspection at Cliffside Plant; further monitoring results from the Dan River
Mar. 3, 12:25 p.m. - State issues notices of violation for five more Duke Energy plants
Feb. 28, 4:56 p.m. - State agency issues violation notices, enforcement recommendations to Duke Energy for coal ash spill
Feb. 28, 3:38 p.m. - DENR responding to discharge from pipe at Duke Energy power plant in Rutherford County
Feb. 27, 2:45 p.m. - Latest update on Dan River coal ash spill activities
Feb. 25, 2:51 p.m. - State environmental agency considers requiring Duke Energy to move coal ash from Dan river site
Feb. 24, 4:23 p.m. - State environmental officials start sampling fish tissue near Dan River coal ash spill site
Feb. 21, 4:13 p.m. - Aluminum and iron still exceed surface water quality standards near coal ash spill site
Feb. 18, 5:06 p.m. - DENR orders Duke Energy to halt discharges from second pipe under coal ash basin
Feb. 18, 12:44 p.m. - MEDIA ALERT: State environmental agency to hold briefing for news media 
Feb. 17, 5:25 p.m. - State environmental agency starts water quality sampling at John H. Kerr Reservoir
Feb. 14, 7:20 p.m. - State probing structural integrity of second pipe under Dan River coal ash pond 
Feb. 13, 4:40 p.m. - State environmental agency investigating wastewater discharge at site of coal ash spill
Feb. 12, 4:16 p.m. State releases additional water quality test results from Dan River coal ash spill
Feb. 11, 11:43 a.m. - State regulators outline action on coal ash ponds
Feb. 9, 2:24 p.m. - State regulators clarify reports on arsenic test results near coal ash spill
Feb. 7, 7:38 p.m. - DENR releases remaining test results from water quality sampling near coal ash spill
Feb. 6, 6:59 p.m. - State test results of water quality sampling near coal ash spill released
Feb. 6, 4:41 p.m. - Governor McCrory Directs Duke Energy to Bring Coal Ash Spill Under Control
Feb. 5, 6:23 p.m. - DENR expects water sampling results from river near coal ash spill this week
Feb. 4, 5:53 p.m. - DENR releases initial water test results from Duke Energy coal ash spill
Feb. 4, 9:04 a.m. - DENR Secretary Skvarla heading to Eden, as agency staff members work with Duke Energy to control coal ash spill
Feb. 3, 5:32 p.m. - DENR staff working with utility at site of Dan River spill in Rockingham County

N.C. DHHS Health Advisories for the Dan River

Feb. 12 Health Advisory



Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.