Researchers test samples in Iredell County to ensure drinking water is safe

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — Researchers are testing drinking water in Iredell County to make sure families are safe.

Neighbors are concerned about their health because nearly 1 million cubic yards of coal ash are buried beneath Mooresville, which is the largest concentration in the state.

[ALSO READ: Possible coal ash sighting sparks new concern among Mooresville neighbors]

The county health department handed out water tests for a week and on Wednesday, families met researchers in the parking lot of a church in Mooresville to drop their tests off.

The water's pH level was tested on site and then taken to a lab for additional testing.

Neighbor Jaime Mazzei said, “I’m hoping I don’t have the coal ash stuff going on it.”

Mazzei is one of the 742 residents in Iredell County who have signed up for the water tests.

Marcus Young is also testing his water. He said, "Would just like to find out what’s in there. We’ve got kids so make sure it’s safe.”

[9 Investigates: Coal ash site exposed near Lake Norman High School]

For the next four to six weeks, lead researcher Kelsey Pieper will be checking to see if there is anything dangerous in the water.

She is searching for metal and anything else that doesn’t belong.

She explained, “We’re looking at water quality within the home plumbing and then we have residents flush the water and then we look at the water that’s coming out of the ground and into the well.”

Pieper is with Virginia Tech. The university is working with Iredell County to test the water.

Families who gave their tests to researchers on Wednesday hope to learn the results soon.

"Peace of mind," Young said.

Mazzei echoed that thought, "It would give me peace of mind, because you’re drinking it every day and everything so I wonder what the long-term effects are.”

Since there was so much demand for these tests, researchers have added an extra day for the drop-offs. From 5:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, you can continue to bring tests to researchers.

As soon as the results are in, there will be a meeting to discuss the results and explain how families can get safe drinking water if they need it.

For more information on how, where and when you can get your water tested, click here.

Duke Energy sent Channel 9 a statement saying, “There is a very robust body of research that demonstrates water supplies remain safe from coal ash impacts – from our monitoring wells and surface water testing, to independent state testing of private wells around ash basins, to other university studies. All our work complies with rigorous state and federal permits designed to keep neighbors and the environment safe.”