11/16/06 — State's rules for wells get new look

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State's rules for wells get new look

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 16, 2006 1:45 PM

Wayne County Board of Health members will take a look at a set of proposed new state rules for wells set to take effect this summer -- and the board wants residents to do the same.

Kevin Whitley, director of environmental health, said the state had requested the rules be implemented by counties across the state. Counties that comply ahead of the July 1 deadline, he said, could receive $40,000 to help with the transition.

The process to inspect wells is similar to the inspection done for septic systems, Whitley said. It typically requires three trips to complete the task -- siting, permitting and final inspection, he said.

The state's push for the regulations is geared toward preventing contaminated water.

"That's the goal any well ordinance will have," Whitley said. "The requirement is not to make the well water fit to drink. These rules are to protect the resources and hopefully get clean water out of it."

One of the changes to the local rules would be to include irrigation wells. The move might also prompt homeowners to consider accessing countywide water rather than to pay to have additional wells drilled, Whitley said.

"We have found that when a homeowner moves in, he hires an irrigation company," he said. In some cases, he added, the well location does not meet the 50-foot setback requirement and can interfere with other properties.

Put simply, with the new regulations, "Any hole punched in the ground now has to be done by a licensed well driller," Health Director James Roosen said.

Whitley said when he spoke with well drillers in the county, no problems were found with including irrigation to the list requiring a permit.

Like Wayne, several neighboring counties already have some rules and regulations in place about wells. Whitley said Johnston County charges $100 for the permitting process, while Duplin County reportedly charges $75 and New Hanover charges $200. Wayne County's fee has been $175.

Whitley said he asked the state how many wells are added each year in Wayne County.

"They had less than 50 a year being installed," he said. "But that's only the ones being reported."

The Board of Health was asked to review the list of regulations and vote on them at the next meeting. The delay also allows time to notify the public about the changes.

"We have to go through the notification process ... let the public know before we can pass this," Roosen said.

A complete list of the regulations will be posted at the Clerk of Court's Office no less than 10 days before the next board meeting, which is Dec. 20, Whitley said. There will also be a public notice placed in the newspaper in advance of the meeting.

Roosen said local residents are invited to attend the next board meeting and give input about any concerns they might have about the changes.

"These rules are going to have to be enforced statewide by July 1," he said. "We have been asked by the state to adopt these rules locally, and they're holding a carrot out with this $40,000 to make sure we have got a good well program by July 1."