Water Quality at Popular Vacationing Spots in North And South Carolina
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Water Quality at Popular Vacationing Spots in North And South Carolina

Throughout the Carolinas, water quality can greatly vary. Even the most popular vacation spots can be victims of subpar tap water. Here’s what you need to know to make the most informed travel decisions possible.

Why Is Water Quality Important?

Water’s quality affects everything: from its taste and how effective it is for cleaning and cooking, to how many unseeable, potentially dangerous pathogens and contaminants it has. When considering water quality, it’s important to note that meeting legal limits for contaminants—which all of these locations do—does not equal optimal water quality. If tap water quality is low where you’re traveling, bringing your own or buying bottled water will be your best bet.

Popular Vacation Spots in the Carolinas

Any of these spots can be great for a vacation, but being great for water is another matter. Here’s what you need to know about the water quality at some of our most visited locations.

Please note: We’ve included contaminant data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their tap water database. These are not legal water requirements and are guidelines specific to this third-party organization. Even in places with higher-quality water, there is still the potential for contamination.

Wrightsville Beach

Wrightsville Beach brings in droves of vacationers and college students alike, and for good reason. The water quality may not be something to draw you in, though. The area has a history of getting hit hard by cancer-linked PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” that companies like Chemours contributed to its primary water source, the Cape Fear River. As of this year, Wilmington has been noted as having the highest levels of forever chemicals in the US alongside neighboring Brunswick County.

Top Wrightsville Tap Water Contaminants

The Outer Banks

Don’t let the tv show fool you: the Outer Banks area is a laid-back, low-stress paradise to spend your time. Its tap water comes from a below-ground saltwater aquifer that leverages reverse osmosis technologies to purify it even further. So while the taste may still be a little salty, this means more reliable treatment than many other places you could visit.

Top Outer Banks Tap Water Contaminants

The Outer Banks includes a lot of different locations, so there can be more variance than anywhere else on the list. This data is for its largest area, Kill Devil Hills.

Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head is a unique merger of beach and forest vibes that’s hard to beat, and its water quality is unbeaten on this list. That said, its treatment still involves chemicals that aren’t ideal and aren’t fully effective compared to what Kinetico Advanced Water Systems can achieve.

Top Hilton Head Tap Water Contaminants

Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle has a little bit of everything to make the most of your downtime–especially first-class fishing and boating. Bogue Banks Water Corporation is responsible for regularly testing water pumped from twelve wells in the service area for over 150 contaminants. While this makes a difference, it’s still not a foolproof system.

Top Emerald Isle Tap Water Contaminants

Oak Island

Oak Island is home to one of the longest piers on the east coast, alongside a premier boating and beach scene. But because it also has the Cape Fear River as its predominant water source, it’s susceptible to some of the same high contaminant levels that Wilmington has.

Top Oak Island Tap Water Contaminants

Ocean Isle

This barrier island with beautiful beaches has a little bit for everyone. It’s also unfortunately plagued by extreme water issues like Wilmington and Oak Island due to Cape Fear River contamination that companies have contributed to.

Top Ocean Isle Tap Water Contaminants

Myrtle Beach

60 miles of beach and a famed boardwalk are just some of the staples of this activity-packed locale. A large portion of the area, Horry County, gets water from an aquifer that has seen some considerable contamination issues.

Top Myrtle Beach Tap Water Contaminants


The deep history of Charleston and its expansive downtown area pairs amazingly with its great beaches. Interestingly, there have been some conflicting reports on the quality of the water, with forever chemical amounts being disputed.

Top Charleston Tap Water Contaminants

While other reporting hasn’t been entirely conclusive, the EWG has its own clear stance on contaminant levels.

Additional Things to Consider

No tap water, as is, will ever truly be perfect; so while quality is certainly important to consider, you shouldn’t fret if you already have a vacation planned. Just consider purchasing bottled water if the quality is especially low, and you’ll still have as good of a time as anywhere else. Also: while water quality can be observable at a larger level, there are always outliers in any area. Ensure that you stay at a hotel or rental that has pipes that are up to par and will not pollute tap water with lead.

Ensure Home or Business Water Quality With Kinetico Advanced Water Systems

While you can’t bring Kinetico Advanced Water Systems on vacation, they can be the perfect fix for water quality concerns at your home or business. Starting with a free water test, we’re able to expertly understand the makeup of your water, assess its risk and offer custom solutions on your budget and terms. Schedule your free water analysis for your home or free water consultation for your business now.