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Charlotte's Water Gets Good Grades On 2016 Tests

A lab technician handles water samples at Charlotte Water's laboratory off Billy Graham Parkway.
David Boraks
A lab technician handles water samples at Charlotte Water's laboratory off Billy Graham Parkway.

Mecklenburg County's drinking water met federal standards for safety and quality again last year. That's according to the annual report out from Charlotte Water. 

Barry Gullet
Credit David Boraks / WFAE
Charlotte Water director Barry Gullet

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires systems like Charlotte's to publish annual reports for customers. The report is based on tests last year of 150 contaminants, including lead, chlorine and bacteria. The 220,000 tests found that even the highest contaminant levels were below federal limits. 

"Charlotte has great water and we want our customers to understand that and to be confident that they can drink it and that it will be good for them," said Charlotte Water director Barry Gullet.

Charlotte's drinking water comes from Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake. It's treated at one of three plants, where contaminants are filtered out and disinfectants are added to kill germs. Then it's pumped through 4,200 miles of pipes to households and businesses - a million users a day.

The 2016 tests showed no violations for unhealthy microbes, such as e.coli bacteria or a parasite called cryptosporidium. Lead, copper and other metals also were well within federal limits.

Last August, a single test found a slightly elevated level of thallium at one treatment plant. But it was still below the federal limit and wasn't detected again last year.

This year's report has a little bonus for one group of water users - home brewers. A page on the Charlotte Water website lists the mineral components of local tap water. It's consistent and on the soft side  - qualities home brewers like.  

The report is being sent to customers across Mecklenburg County this week. It's also online at charlottewater.org.   Click on "water quality information."

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.