Millions of Kentucky citizens get their water from groundwater sources, so protecting groundwater resources is vital to providing clean, safe drinking water. Groundwater Awareness week is a good reminder that wellhead protection is a fundamental component to providing good water sources.
Wellhead protection is the prevention of groundwater contamination by management of potential contaminant sources within a designated land area around a well or spring.
The designated lands are called Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPAs). The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that states develop a Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP) to help communities protect their water supply from potential contamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Kentucky’s Wellhead Protection Program in 1993.
Kentucky’s WHPP is coordinated by the Kentucky Division of Water’s Watershed Management Branch and is regulated through the Water Supply Planning Regulation (401 KAR 4:220).
This regulation requires that counties assess the quantity of water used by their public water supply stems, and formulate protection plans for the source waters used by those systems. WHP is designed to assist those communities relying on groundwater for their drinking water source to develop groundwater protection strategies.
More than 120 public water systems in Kentucky utilize groundwater as their drinking water source, and have developed a wellhead protection plan. Wellhead protection program staff is responsible for helping communities organize their wellhead protection planning efforts, reviewing protection plans, provide guidance to planning teams and presenting information on wellhead protection at public meetings throughout the state.
Another way Kentucky and its Wellhead Protection Program assists communities with source water protection strategies is through its Source Water Protection Assistance Program (SWPAP).
One of the easiest ways public water systems can reduce costs and ensure an adequate water supply for the future is to protect and improve the area surrounding their water supply source.
Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF) are made available to water systems or municipalities, through a competitive application process, for development and implementation of source water protection strategies. The program is entering its third year and project proposals are currently under review. Thus far, a total of nine projects have been funded over the course of the first two years.
These projects have included significant education and outreach efforts, proper abandonment of unused water wells, Best Management Practices implementation and identification of potential contaminants. The Division funded five projects totaling $145,688 in the 2015 funding cycle.