Ensuring that private wells in North Carolina are held to the same standards as municipal water sources seems to be a no-brainer. Why would any one NOT want to know if their primary water source has arsenic, or old lace in it! Apparently, the need to buy a house in one day rather than wait the week or two that most environmental labs in the state would take to run the various drinking water tests takes precedence, seems like a little spin to me.
The real issue here is the competing needs of the buyer and the seller, the buyer needs to know and the seller does not necessarily want the buyer to know. If this is a private transaction, no big deal, people can ask, but when you’re up against the cookie cutter developers (politically connected, of course) and the home builders association, the power asymmetry pretty much ensures that in the absence of regulation, bad things will happen.
The state’s real estate and home building industries are opposed to mandatory tests of new drinking water wells, especially if a test backlog could delay the sale of a house.
Companion bills, introduced late last month in the state House and
Senate at the request of Gov. Mike Easley, would require North Carolina counties to enforce state well construction standards. Water-quality tests will be required of new wells that provide water to houses or small businesses that serve transient populations, such as service stations.
The News & Observer reported in March that more than 2 million North Carolinians drink water from private wells and that they are at risk from contaminants that they cannot see, smell, or taste. Some are man-made, from a nearby farm or business, and some are natural, such as arsenic or radiological contaminants.
There are no state testing requirements for private wells. At least three attempts over the past 15 years to require minimal testing have been defeated.
Rick Zechini, who represents the N.C. Association of Realtors, and R. Paul Wilms, who represents the N.C. Home Builders Association, say the bill should be defeated if it isn’t changed.
“Until we get assurance that there is [testing] capacity, that the tests won’t take weeks and months, and that the cost is not prohibitive, we’re not in a position to support the legislation,” Zechini said.