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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

Designation of Sole Source Aquifers: Fact Sheet

What is a Sole Source Aquifer?

A Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) is an aquifer designated by EPA as the "sole or principal source" of drinking water for a given service area; that is, an aquifer which is needed to supply 50% or more of the drinking water for that area and for which there are no reasonably available alternative sources should the aquifer become contaminated. (National Program Website)

What are the benefits of designation as a Sole Source Aquifer?

Proposed Federal financially-assisted projects which have the potential to contaminate the SSA area will be subject to EPA review. This review could either prevent a commitment of Federal funding or cause a redesign of the project. Designation has no effect on proposed projects which do not receive Federal financial assistance such as projects funded by State, local or private concerns.

Who may apply for Sole Source Aquifer designation?

Any person may apply for SSA designation. A "person" is any individual, corporation, company, association, partnership, State, municipality or Federal agency. The petition should be submitted to the EPA Regional Administrator.

What should be included in a Sole Source Aquifer petition?

The petition should include sufficient technical information to allow EPA to determine whether the aquifer is the sole or principal source of drinking water and to substantiate the boundaries of the aquifer and its recharge area. The petitioner is responsible for providing the hydrogeological and other information needed for designation. The information which must be submitted in the petition is described in the Sole Source Aquifer Designation Petitioner Guidance (online version is provided by the Region 2 Office).

What are the steps in processing a Sole Source Aquifer designation petition?

There are four phases in making a designation decision:
  • Petition Preparation (Petitioner)
  • Initial Review/Completeness Determination (EPA)
  • Detailed Review/Technical Verification (EPA)
  • Designation Determination (EPA)

How long does the designation decision process take?

The designation process generally takes a minimum of six months from the time the petitioner submits a complete petition to the time EPA makes a determination. The process may take longer, depending on the complexity of the petition.

Where may additional information be obtained?

For more information about the SSA program in EPA Region 6 contact:

Michael Bechdol
Ground Water/UIC Section (6WQ-SG)
EPA Region 6
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75202
(214) 665-7133

For more information about the SSA program Nationally contact:

Beth Hall
US Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (4601)
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Av., NW (4606M)
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-3884

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