Jump to main content.


Seven Valleys Aquifer - York County, Pennsylvania

Mid-Atlantic Sole Source Aquifers

Map of All


Federal Register Notice
Volume: 50
, Issue: 44, Page: 9126 (50 FR 9126)
Wednesday, March 6, 1985


AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: The Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the groundwater system of the Conestoga Limestone formation of the Piedmont region which underlies part of York County, Pennsylvania, in the vicinity of the Borough of Seven Valleys (denominated "Seven Valleys" aquifer), is the sole or principal source of drinking water for that part of York County and that such aquifer, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. This determination is in response to a petition submitted by Opposing Unnecessary Chemical Hazards, Inc. (O.U.C.H.) requesting that the Administrator of EPA make a determination under section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Pub. L. 93-523, as amended, that the Conestoga Limestone aquifer underlying the Borough of Seven Valleys and a portion of North Codorus Township is a sole or principal source of drinking water for the area. As a result of this action, Federal financially assisted projects in the designated area will be subject to EPA review pursuant to section 1424(e) to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed so that they do not create a significant hazard to public health.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This determination shall be promulgated for purposes of judicial review at 1:00 p.m. eastern standard time on March 14, 1985. This determination shall become effective on April 15, 1985.

ADDRESS: The date on which these findings are based are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, Water Supply Branch, Curtis Building, 6th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106. [Information is out-of-date.]

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: S. Stephen Platt, Water Supply Branch, Environmental Protection Agency, Region III at the above address or at (215) 597-9017 or FTS-597-9017. [Information is out-of-date.]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is hereby given that pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (Pub. L. 93-523) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the Conestoga Limestone Aquifer is the sole or principal source of drinking water for the Borough of Seven Valleys and a portion of North Codorus Township in York County, Pennsylvania. The aquifer supplies drinking water to the public water systems and individual (single family) wells. Pursuant to section 1424(e), Federally financially assisted projects, constructed on the Conestoga Limestone aquifer or within its streamflow source zone, will be subjected to EPA review.

Background Information

The Safe Drinking Water Act (Pub. L. 93-523) was enacted on December 16, 1974. Section 1424(e) of the Act states:

"If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of the law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer."

On September 24, 1981, Opposing Unnecessary Chemical Hazards, (O.U.C.H.), Inc., of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania, petitioned the Administrator of EPA, pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, to designate a small portion of the Conestoga Limestone formation in York County, Pennsylvania denominated "Seven Valleys" as the sole or principal source of drinking water for such area which, if contaminated would create significant hazard to public health. A notice of receipt of this petition, together with a request for comments, was published in the Federal Register on February 2, 1982 (47 FR 4737).

One comment was received as a result of the public notice. The comment forwarded the opinion that the intent of the petition was to obstruct development of a proposed chemical landfill and that the landfill would have no impact on the water quality of the Seven Valleys Aquifer. A Sole Source designation requires that the section 1424(e) review process be applied only to projects which receive Federal financial assistance. No evidence has been presented to indicate that this landfill would receive Federal funding and, consequently, be subjected to section 1424(e) review. The proposal to operate a chemical waste landfill also has no influence on the Agency's determination to designate the area.

Upon review of the petition, EPA has determined that the streamflow source zones of the designated area are portions of the drainage basins of the East Branch of West Branch Codorus Creek and South Branch Codorus Creek. Therefore, upon designation, protection will be extended to these drainage basins.

Description of the Designated Portion of the Conestoga Limestone Formation and its Stream Flow Source Zones.

The Conestoga formation consists of limestone that is argillaceous in places and interbedded with thin partings of graphite shale. The area over which Federally financially assisted projects will be reviewed includes both the designated portion of the Conestoga formation and its streamflow source zone. The designated area consists of the following: The area directly overlying the Conestoga Limestone formation in the vicinity of Sinsheim, Jefferson, and Seven Valleys and the streamflow source zones of that portion of the Conestoga Limestone Formation. The stream flow source zones include the drainage basins of the East Branch of West Branch Codorus Creek, from its headwaters to its confluence with West Branch Codorus Creek, and the South Branch Codorus Creek from its headwaters to the town of Glatfelters and including the drainage basins of Fishel Creek, Buffalo Valley Creek, Brush Valley Creek, Krebs Valley Creek, Glen Rock Valley Creek, Trout Run, and Cherry Run.

Information Utilized in the Determination

The surface area of the aquifer is about 4 square miles and the area of the stream flow source zone is approximately 75 square miles. An enlarged map of the area and all the information utilized in this determination, which includes the petition, written comments, and various technical publications, are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, Sixth and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Basis for Determination

On the basis of the information which is available to this Agency, the Administrator has made the following findings, which are the basis for the determination noted above:
1. The portion of the "Seven Valleys" aquifer underlying the designated area is the principal drinking water source for this area. Seven Valleys Public Water Supply derives 25,000 gallons per day (gpd) from the aquifer to serve about 700 people. No treatment is currently provided to this supply. The remaining residents in the designated area, approximately 1,000 people, have private wells which supply, collectively, about 35,000 gpd. It is difficult to obtain accurate water-use figures for the area, especially for ground water use. This is because the aquifer boundaries do not coincide with any statistical-unit boundaries and domestic wells are seldom equipped with water meters. A standard estimate of 35 gallons/person/day was used for the private supplies. This 60,000 gpd is approximately 95 percent of the drinking water supplied by ground water.

2. There is no existing alternative drinking water source which provides 50 percent or more of the drinking water to the designated area. This is because this area is rural in nature and the nearest existing alternative supply is at a distance.

3. The designated portion of the "Seven Valleys" aquifer is susceptible to contamination through the recharge or streamflow source zone from abandoned wells, septic tanks, leaking fuel tanks, and leaching from open dumps and improperly operated landfills. Isolated incidents of nitrate contamination and contamination of private wells in the streamflow source zone by an abandoned landfill have been documented. Since the ground water contamination can be difficult or impossible to reverse, and because this aquifer system is heavily relied upon for drinking water purposes by the general population, contamination of the aquifer would pose a significant hazard to public health.

4. Water enters the "Seven Valleys" aquifer through level precipitation and the streamflow source zone. Ground water levels are controlled by precipitation patterns. The water table follows the surface topography of the area. Ground water flow is a major component of streamflow in the area.

Project Review

When the EPA Administrator publishes this determination for a sole or principal drinking water source, the consequence is that no commitment for Federal financial assistance may be made if the Administrator finds that the Federally-assisted project may contaminate the aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health * * *. Safe Drinking Water Act 1424(e), 42 U.S.C. 300h-3(e). In many cases, these Federally-assisted projects may also be analyzed in an "Environmental Impact Statement" ("EIS") under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C). All EIS's, as well as any other proposed Federal actions affecting an EPA program or responsibility, are required by Federal law (under the so-called "NEPA/309" process)/1/ to be reviewed and commented upon by the EPA Administrator.

NOTE /1/ 42 U.S.C. 7609 requires EPA to conduct this review. The "309" in a "NEPA/309" derives from the original source of this general requirement: Section 309 of the Clean Air Act.

Therefore to streamline EPA's review of the possible environmental impacts on designated aquifers, when an action is analyzed in an EIS, the two reviews will be consolidated, and both authorities will be cited. The EPA review (under the Safe Drinking Water Act) of Federally-assisted projects potentially affecting sole or principal source aquifers, will be included in the EPA review (under the "NEPA/309" process) of any EIS accompanying the same Federally-assisted project. The letter transmitting EPA's comments on the final EIS to the lead agency will be the vehicle for informing the lead agency of EPA's actions under 1424(e).

Economic and Regulatory Impact

Pursuant to the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 605(b), I hereby certify that the attached rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. For purposes of this certification the term "small entity" shall have the same meaning given in section 601 of the RFA. This action is only applicable to the area covered by the petition submitted by O.U.C.H. The only effected entities will be those area-based businesses, organizations or governmental jurisdictions that submit applications for Federal financial assistance to a Federl agency.

While the number of small entities which submit such applications cannot be anticipated, EPA has stated that it "will not be concerned with reviewing, on an individual basis, small isolated commitments of financial assistance" (42 FR 31621, September 29, 1977). Thus the number of projects reviewed in this area should be very small; protection of the aquifer will normally require review of larger, potentially contaminating or overpumping projects such as housing projects, highways or sewage treatment plants which would not ordinarily be small entities under the FRA (42 FR 51621, 51622).

For those small entities which are subject to review, the impact of today's action will not be significant. As noted in the Federal Register preamble cited above, most projects subject to this review will be preceded by a ground-water impact assessment under other Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Integration of those related review procedures with Sole Source Aquifer review will allow EPA and other Federal agencies to avoid delay or duplication of effort in approving a grant of assistance, thus minimizing any adverse effect on those small entities which are affected. Finally, today's action does not prevent grants of Federal financial assistance which may be available to any affected small entity in order to pay for the redesign of the project to assure protection of the aquifer.

Executive Order 12291

Under Executive Order 12291, EPA must judge whether a regulation is "major" and therefore subject to the requirement of a Regulatory Impact Analysis. This regulation is not major because it will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, nor will it cause any major increases in costs or proces, or have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States' enterprises to compete in domestic or export markets. Today's action only affects Seven Valleys and the surrounding area. It provides an additional review of ground-water protection measures, including any instituted by local authorities, for only those projects which request Federal financial assistance in this area.

Dated: February 28, 1985.

Lee M. Thomas,
Administrator.

Top of page

EPA Water Home || Mid-Atlantic Water Home
Mid-Atlantic Water Topics A - Z


Local Navigation


water for kids

Jump to main content.