Is Charlotte Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Last Update12:53 pm, April 8, 2021

The estimated price of bottled water

$2.4 in USD (1.5-liter)

User Submitted Ratings for Charlotte Tap Water

  • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 17% Very Low
  • Water Pollution 33% Low
  • Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 83% Very High
  • Water Quality 67% High

The above data is comprised of subjective, user submitted opinions about the water quality and pollution in Charlotte, measured on a scale from 0% (lowest) to 100% (highest).

Can You Drink Tap Water in Charlotte?

Yes, tap water is drinkable.

Tap Safe includes data from many publicly available sources, including the WHO (World Health Organization), CDC (Center for Disease Control), and user submitted databases, but unfortunately there's not enough data about Charlotte.

To see user submitted ratings of the water quality for North Carolina, see the "User Submitted Ratings" box on this page.

Water is the source of life and having access to clean, healthy tap water is as much of a right as any. For those living in, considering moving to, or traveling to Charlotte, NC, you might be wondering what the quality is of the tap water. Like many modern American metropolises, there are some contaminants you should always be mindful of, but, in general, the water in Charlotte is considered safe and enjoyable.

History of water pollution in Charlotte

Water quality has not always been the focal point of the infrastructure within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg county area. During the 1950s, factories would routinely dump waste into the surrounding waterways, leading to a drastic reduction in the fish population; likewise, sewage mismanagement led to high bacteria counts in area streams.

This contamination compelled the creation of the Mecklenburg County Department of Environmental protection in 1970 and in 1993 acquired a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, allowing improvements in point-source pollution. These measures, in addition to other stormwater and surface water management policies and ordinances, have drastically improved the water quality of streams in the Charlotte area.

How’s the tap water?

While water quality after use is always a concern, tap water quality is of even greater concern. The city of Charlotte performs extensive testing to ensure that the tap water it provides meets and exceeds regulatory standards. At present, the city performs a variety of testing, such as for lead, copper, chlorine, and E. Coli and other coliform bacteria. This testing revealed no contamination that exceeds the regulatory limits imposed on safe, drinking water.

In some areas of North Carolina, there are concerns from contamination from such compounds as PFAS, coal ash and 1,4-Dioxane. These chemicals are either considered carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic. While management of these compounds continues to be an issue elsewhere in North Carolina, testing of tap water in Charlotte, even for unregulated compounds such as PFAS, reveals no contamination that exceeds federal regulations. Given the relatively large population serviced by the Charlotte water supply, ensuring safe drinking water is of the utmost concern.

Potential contamination

Given that drinking water regulations and guidelines are human-determined, oversight, outside influences and lag-times in the application or adjustment of regulations can and do affect the drinking water quality. From a legal standpoint, the water in Charlotte passes the regulatory standards set for various contaminants and pollutants. From a health standard, there is still measurable contamination from a variety of compounds that has potential implications for different consumers.

There are 7 contaminants of note whose presence indicates the potential for health concerns, most of which have no legal limit for water quality testing. Bromodichloromethane levels are over 3 times the state and national average. Bromodichloromethane, a byproduct of the application of chlorine to disinfect drinking water, is of concern because of its potential effects on pregnancy and as a potential carcinogen.

Bromoform, another byproduct of chlorine application, is also well above the recommended levels, with a measurement of 12.7 parts per billion (ppb) versus the recommended 5 ppb. Chloroform has also been found. Chloroform is another byproduct of chlorine application. Fortunately, however, it has been found to be 5 ppb over the 1 ppb recommended levels, substantially less than the 18 ppb found on average throughout North Carolina.

Dibromochloromethane, dichloroacetic acid and trichloroacetic acid are other compounds that are the byproducts of chlorine application, with levels that range from over 20 times the recommended level with dibromochloromethane to .004 ppb over the recommended level with trichloroacetic acid. These compounds also have been linked to cancer and pregnancy defects.

Hexavalent chromium, although also without a legal testing limit, has also been found above recommended levels, with slightly over 3 times the recommended level of .002 ppb. Given the potency of this potential carcinogen, its higher levels may be of some concern.

Measures to assure the quality of tap water

Given the importance of tap water and the incentive of citizens and officials alike to ensure quality tap water, the elevated levels of some compounds may be of concern to some individuals. Immune-compromised individuals, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or who recently received an organ transplant, may be vulnerable to the trace presence of the above listed contaminants as well as trace measures of infectious pathogens such as Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants.

Given these concerns, the city of Charlotte does take great strides to ensure quality drinking water with multiple testing at its 3 drinking water treatment plants. Likewise, the Catawba river, the water source of the city of Charlotte, has long been considered a quality drinking water source that has minimal contamination before treatment.

Although the city can treat the drinking water at its treatment facilities, it cannot ensure the drinking water quality once delivered to individual homes. Routinely inspecting plumbing and ensuring that code-compliant materials are used is the best option to prevent exposure to lead or excess levels of copper or iron from rusting or corroding pipes.

Further, to ensure that excess mineral levels or unregulated contaminants are absent from drinking water, there are a variety of water filters that are recommended to purify drinking water. Ion exchange activated carbon and reverse osmosis filters have been shown to remove all or greatly reduce levels of the above listed contaminants as well as excess concentrations of elements and minerals such as chlorine, fluorine and thallium, with reverse osmosis being the most effective option.

Ideally, drinking water would always be of the utmost quality. Unfortunately, changing regulations, outdated regulations, or insufficient regulations can allow excessive contaminant levels that can cause health problems among those who drink tap water.

Fortunately, with the exception of 7 currently unregulated contaminants, most of which are considered the byproducts of chlorine disinfection, the drinking water of Charlotte meets or exceeds the regulatory limits set for various contaminants. For those who want to ensure that their water always meets personal standards, for health or preference, there are a variety of filters that will remove any residual contaminants from the treatment process. Whether you live in, visit, or wish to move to Charlotte, that’s something that you can drink to.

Contaminants


Charlotte Water

EWG's drinking water quality report shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the Environmental Working Group by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as information from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database (ECHO). For the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2019 - March 2019), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

Utility details

  • Serves: 833579
  • Data available: 2012-2017
  • Data Source: Surface water
  • Total: 16

Contaminants That Exceed Guidelines

  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Bromoform
  • Chloroform
  • Chromium (hexavalent)
  • Dibromochloromethane
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
  • Trichloroacetic acid

Other Detected Contaminants

  • Chlorite
  • Dibromoacetic acid
  • Fluoride
  • Haloacetic acids (HAA5)
  • Monobromoacetic acid
  • Strontium
  • Thallium
  • Vanadium

Reminder

Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.

Sources and Resources

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