What if Your Small System Water Supply Became Contaminated?
What would you do if you lost the use of the well or wells that serve your mobile home park, homeowners association, small community, nursing home or residential treatment facility? Are there prudent steps to help avoid this calamity? Help is available!
Your water supply is a crucial asset to your community.
It is literally a lifeline to your residents. Did you know that the land area around your wells is a vital part of the ecosystem that replenishes your water system? What could affect your well(s)?
- A leak from an above-ground heating oil tank can impact the groundwater that supplies your well or wells with petroleum hydrocarbons.
- Septic system discharge can contain contaminants if there is insufficient treatment of biological contaminants like coliforms and inorganic compounds like nitrate. Septic system discharge may also contain contaminants that the system was never designed to treat, such as solvents and fuels.
- If farming or residential areas are in the vicinity, the use of fertilizers and pesticides are probably very common. Polluted runoff can enter the groundwater that serves your system.
- Improper disposal of common household products – cleaning products, used motor oil, pet waste, lawn fertilizers and pesticides.
- Improper disposal of products used by area businesses - such as dry cleaners, auto repair shops, hair salons, cemeteries, veterinarians, petroleum storage and handling.
Did you know these pollutants can migrate into your aquifer? Think about what could happen if they travel over time to the groundwater that feeds your drinking water wells. Sometimes contamination may not be reversible, and the source must be abandoned.
Why is it important to protect water at the source?
Managing land uses, spills and human-caused sources of contamination are the keys to preventing pollution before it enters the drinking water supply at the source. Protecting public drinking water supplies at the source will:
- lessen potential health issues for the people your system serves
- reduce the high costs associated with water treatment, and
- can help avoid the cost of new source development.
Prevention can reduce the complexity of operating your water system, which also helps keep costs down. Having a science-based Small System Source Water Protection Plan characterizes one of your key assets. It gives you an important management tool to safeguard the sustainability of your water supply.
Is help available?
In a word, YES! The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has developed a voluntary drinking water protection program geared to the needs of small community water systems in Pennsylvania that serve 500 people or less. Even privately owned water systems like mobile home parks are eligible to get help at NO OUT-OF- POCKET COST.
PADEP now offers a Small System Source Water Protection Plan that provides a valuable snapshot of your drinking water system. Could you be at risk from a toxic spill along area roadways? Could runoff from a new development in your vicinity impact your wells?
The maps, brochures, and drinking water protection strategies in your plan can help you engage and educate area land owners, local municipal officials and emergency responders about the steps they can take to help protect drinking water for the residents of the community.
The Small System Source Water Protection Plan* includes essential information that will help you protect your source:
- A description of the raw water sources that supply your water system
- A map of the key protection areas for your water supply
- An inventory of the potential sources of contamination that could affect your system
- A Checklist that guides you with suggested Source Water Protection action steps
- Free public education materials you can customize and use to raise awareness among residents to help them be part of the solution and prevent accidental contamination of the water supply that serves them.
Small community water system supply owners and operators across Pennsylvania are already taking advantage of this terrific management tool for their water systems. Take a look through the sample Small System Source Water Protection Plan – click the plan image above. It can be the key to ensuring a hassle-free future for the water supply that serves your mobile home park, facility or community. And at no out- of- pocket cost, it’s a no-brainer for smart business people.
To get started, contact the appropriate Source Water Protection Coordinator for your region.
* Program and Plans are available to community water systems in Pennsylvania.
Get More Information
Download the PADEP Small System Source Water Protection Flyer
- New Program to Help Small Water Systems with Source Water Protection article that appeared in the Winter 2014-2015 edition of PADEP Drinking Water News.