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Posts from the ‘Water Quality’ Category

Radioactivity & Water

There’s been a lot of talk recently about radioactivity in water due to nearby power plants and, in particular, coal ash. The question we want to discuss today:

Does the community need to worry about radioactivity in Charlotte Water’s drinking water?

The answer is no. Charlotte Water routinely monitors for radioactive materials and the test results do not detect any radioactive materials above testing detection limits or public health goals set forth by the EPA. 

Sources of Radioactivity

Radioactivity can be naturally occurring from rocks or minerals, or artificial. Recent articles in the news are citing radioactivity found in coal ash monitoring wells adjacent to coal powered power plants. According to a fact sheet written by the US Geological Society (USGS), “Some trace elements in coal are naturally radioactive. These radioactive elements include uranium (U), thorium (Th), and their numerous decay products, including radium (Ra) and radon (Rn). The vast majority of coal and the majority of fly ash are not significantly enriched in radioactive elements, or in associated radioactivity, compared to common soils or rocks.” It is possible that groundwater or surface water can become contaminated with radioactive elements from coal ash. However, the USGS study also stated “Limited measurements of dissolved uranium and radium in water leachates of fly ash and in natural water from some ash disposal sites indicate that dissolved concentrations of these radioactive elements are below levels of human health concern.”

Charlotte Water Monitoring

Even though dissolved concentrations of these radioactive elements in coal ash are very low, Charlotte Water monitors for signs of any kind of contaminants in our raw water sources (Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake), throughout the treatment process, and in the finished drinking water. Charlotte Water monitors for dozens of contaminants including indicators of radioactivity such as alpha and beta particles. All drinking water quality monitoring data can be found on the Charlotte Water website. More than 220,000 laboratory tests are run every year to continuously ensure our community’s drinking water is safe for our community.

Charlotte Water tests the treated drinking water for Radium 226 and Radium 228 annually. The EPA requires utilities to test for these radioactive materials every 9 years. The last test was performed in July 2017 and Charlotte Water will test again in April 2018.

Drinking Water Treatment


Charlotte Water uses a multi-stage treatment process at all three drinking water treatment plants. We can remove physical contaminants as well as dissolved contaminants.

In Summary

  1. Coal ash contains extremely low levels of radioactive materials.
  2. According to public reports, power plant monitoring indicates radioactive materials have only been observed in groundwater monitoring wells adjacent to the coal ash basins.
  3. Lake monitoring and drinking water monitoring results do not detect any radioactive materials above detection limits or public health goals set forth by the EPA.
  4. Charlotte Water treatment plants can remove particulate and dissolved contaminants.
  5. More than 220,000 monitoring tests are conducted each year to ensure our community continuously receives safe, clean drinking water.

Kings Branch Wastewater Spill Update

At 7:20 a.m. on Friday, July 14, Charlotte Water received a call reporting a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) near 700 Farmhurst Drive. Charlotte Water crews responded to discover an active spill of wastewater discharging into Kings Branch, a tributary of Sugar Creek.

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What all home-brewers need to know about Charlotte’s tap water.

Home-brewers may find this information especially helpful when crafting their favorite beer styles.  After all, of the ingredients required to make beer, water is by far the most abundant component.

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Pledge to be Bottle Free in CMGC

With the release of our annual Water Quality Report also comes the initiative “Bottle free in CMGC (Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center.)”

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Water Quality Report 2017

Each year Charlotte Water assembles the Water Quality Report (WQR) that summarizes the water testing results for the calendar year (2016). This report is required of all public water utilities, and Charlotte Water is pleased to announce another year where excellence in you water is being provided.

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Inflow and Infiltration and Why it Matters.

We asked Water Quality Program Administrator Shannon Sypolt to tell us a little about I&I. Read more

Getting the Lead Out

In April 2014 the drinking water industry was forever changed when the City of Flint switched the source of their municipal water supply from Detroit Water to the Flint River. That seemingly innocuous change caused lead to dissolve into the drinking water of tens of thousands of Flint residents when managers failed to provide corrosion control measures. The effects of the Flint Water Crisis continue to ripple through cities and towns across America as citizens wonder if the drinking water in their community is safe to use. Read more

FY16 Annual Report

Another fiscal year has passed and we were busy at Charlotte Water. Read about just some of our accomplishments this year in our FY16 Annual Report. Read more