Understanding Homeowners Responsibility

Is it My Plumbing or Charlotte Water’s to Maintain?

Where does my private plumbing start?

Property owners maintain all water pipes beginning at the end of the meter, which is the tailpiece for a common 5/8-inch service. Property owners are also responsible for all plumbing, plumbing fixtures, and appliances in their buildings. Likewise, an owner’s responsibility for wastewater pipe (sewer) begins, as a rule of thumb, at the street right-of-way. There may be exceptions. Charlotte Water maintains the water meter, including the meter yoke assembly, meter box, and water and wastewater mains under public streets.

The above Illustration shows that Charlotte Water maintains the water pipes under the public streets and service lines from the water main to the meter box. Charlotte Water also maintains the meter and meter box. The property owner's private plumbing starts at the tailpiece or pipe that leaves the water meter box and piping under the private plumbing to the building and inside the building.
A top-down view of water pipes serving your home. Charlotte Water maintains the water pipes under public streets, public hydrants, and through the meter box. Property owners maintain pipes from the meter box to the buildings and inside the buildings.

You also have a backflow prevention device if you have an irrigation system.

backflow assembly illustration showing that a backflow preventer allow water to flow only one way with vales that auto close if water goes back toward the public water system.

If you live near Lake Norman, Mt. Island Lake, or Lake Wylie, you may also have a low-pressure sewer system (LPSS) that pumps wastewater to the public system.

Low-Pressure Sanitary Sewer LPSS system illustration shows how wastewater from a house lower than the public street (ie lakefront property) has to pump their wastewater up to the public wastewater system

Is fluoride in my water?

According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), community water fluoridation “has led to such dramatic declines in both the prevalence and severity of tooth decay that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named it one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Charlotte Water has been adding fluoride to the drinking water since 1949. As the American Dental Association recommended, fluoride concentrations in Charlotte Water are approximately 0.7 milligrams per liter or less than one part per million.​ That equals one car in bumper-to-bumper traffic from Charlotte to Seattle.

For more information on tap water fluoridation, visit the American Water Works Association or ILikeMyTeeth.org.

PFAS and PFOA “Forever Chemicals:” What to Know for Charlotte

PFAS and PFOA have gained national attention as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down naturally in the environment or in the human body. They are part of a family of thousands prevalent compounds that have been used for decades and still used in products like waterproof materials, non-stick pans, and fast food wrappers.

Due to emerging and established health risks, PFAS and PFOA are becoming more regulated and decreasing in industrial uses. However, many regions still face challenges with upstream industrial use of PFAS and PFOA chemicals (See more under North Carolina resources below). You may hear about them in the news and from municipalities working to address any concerns in their areas.

Fortunately, our region in Charlotte-Mecklenburg has not had these same concerns with PFAS and PFOA in drinking water. At this time, PFAS/PFOA are considered unregulated contaminants by the federal government, but the EPA is expected to announce the first Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS in spring 2023.

MCLs establish a maximum level for which a contaminant can be present in drinking water and require water service providers to not exceed that level, as per the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), which means that these compounds will be regulated. Another thing to note is that an MCL is a long-term exposure level – 70 years of drinking 2.5 liters of water daily with PFOA or PFOS at the MCL level.

Charlotte Water proactively and voluntarily monitors for more than 70 per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals quarterly and meets or exceeds all drinking water standards. Monitoring results (available on our unregulated contaminants page) demonstrate very low levels of PFAS/PFOA, with either undetectable levels of PFAS or levels of PFAS barely above the detection limit. All detections are within the anticipated 4ppt MCL. To learn more about your water quality, please visit Charlotte Water’s Water Quality Webpages. Additional resources available below.

Charlotte Water Resources:

EPA Resources:

 Other Resources:

How Charlotte Water Repairs Water Pipe Leaks

With more than 4,500 miles of drinking water pipe, there is always something to fix. Customers can help by calling 311 or 704-336-7600 when they see or suspect a water leak or water main break. Even after the 311 Call Center is closed customers can say or select ‘water emergency’ to reach our dispatchers 24/7.

Charlotte Water prioritizes leaks so that crews repair emergency leaks first.

The Numbers
• 2,000+ repairs per year. Most are service line repairs (between the water main and meter box).
• There are multiple pipes under major roads (serving immediate areas and zip codes).
• Less than 10% of water pipe infrastructure is over 50 years due to proactive pipe replacement efforts.

Water Pipe Repair Step-By-Step

CLTWater Field Technician installing a flag to mark the leak location.


Within hours, a field technician investigates and attempts to repair if it is an easy fix. If it is a leak that requires a construction crew, the technician prioritizes the leak based on severity. Many repairs require coordination with other departments or towns to minimize the impact on customers or drivers.

Staff spray painting where underground   utilities are located before digging begins.


Call NC811 to have other utilities spray paint where their pipes / cables are before digging begins. This can take hours.

Staff turning water off to the leaking water pipe to maintain water to other portions of the neighborhood.


Crews turn valves to stop water flowing through the leaking pipe. Crews may attempt to repair the pipe while keeping water in service for customers. Cones and barriers are set up to protect workers.


Crews will uncover the pipe to make repairs or replace a section of the pipe. Crews will hand-dig portions to reduce the chance of damaging underground infrastructure.

Restore Water Service

Fire hydrants flow to test water quality before restoring water service to customers.

picture of a crew tamping soil before a compaction test during the phase to rebuild a road after a water leak underground.

Repave and Reopen

Crews will backfill soil into the trench, test compaction, and then repave the road.


Straw is placed over dirt if the repair is in a yard. A separate crew or contractor will return several days or weeks later to complete restoration efforts.

What other factors may extend the time between reporting a water leak and the repair?

Crews attempt to repair leaks without a water outage when possible and if there is time will work on solutions to minimize the outage.

Challenges underground

  • Other utilities (fiber, storm water pipes) conflict with the repair and need to be replaced or moved including a large excavation area.
  • Pipe requires full replacement including cutting it out and inserting a new pipe.
  • Repaving depends on the weather. Air temperature is required to be a minimum of 40 degrees and rising in order to properly install asphalt.

Reducing impact on customers

  • Coordinating with Charlotte Department of Transportation, North Carolina Department of Transportation, and/or towns to plan the repair to minimize detours during high traffic times.
  • Installing new valves to minimize the number of customers affected by a water outage.
  • Above ground water pipes may be installed to serve customers if the pipe replacement will take several days to complete.

What caused the water main break / leak?

Unfortunately, since water main breaks occur underground, in most cases we can only speculate as to how exactly the pipe broke. Here are some factors:

  • Construction crews hitting mains while digging for other projects.
  •  Call 811 before you dig to locate the pipes
  • Temperature changes that can cause the soil to expand and contract, putting stress on pipes.
  • Sudden change in water pressure. Quick use of a hydrant to fight a fire or a water main break nearby can cause other pipes to leak.
  • Weak seals or a weakness where two pipes are joined together.
  • Soil conditions (movement, corrosion, extra soil on top pushing down on pipes)

What causes a water main to break?

There are several factors that can cause a pipe to break, including change in temperature, age and external damage.

Who should I call if I see a leak?

If you see or suspect a leak, call 3-1-1 or 704-336-7600 so that Charlotte Water can quickly dispatch a crew to the location. Our dispatchers are working 24/7 so even after CharMeck 311 is closed you can say or select water emergency after the audio greeting to reach our staff.

Learn more at

“Every day, Charlotte Water routinely repairs and maintains water and sewer pipes across our entire service area,” says Charlotte Water Director Angela Charles. “It’s important that we are doing all that we can to keep customers’ trust in our ability to provide clean, safe and reliable water service to the Charlotte region.”

To stay up to date on the most recent events and announcements, follow Charlotte Water on Twitter @CLTWater. For more information on other pipe replacement and restoration projects, visit us at CharlotteWater.org.