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Cortland Homer Preble Aquifer System Cortland Homer Preble Aquifer System

Federal Register Notice

Volume 53, No. 113, Page 22045
Monday, June 13, 1988
Sole Source Aquifer Determination
  for the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System 
Cortland and Onondaga Counties, New York

  • AGENCY

    Environmental Protection Agency

    ACTION

    Notice.

    SUMMARY

    In response to a petition from the Cortland County Legislature, notice is hereby given that the Region II Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Cortland-Homer-Preble Aquifer System (CHPA), underlying portions of Cortland and Onondaga Counties, New York, satisfies all determination criteria as a sole source aquifer, pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Satisfying the designation criteria resulted in the following findings: the CHPA is the sole source of drinking water for the aquifer service area; there are no viable alternative drinking water sources of sufficient supply; and if contamination were to occur, it would pose a significant hazard to public health. As a result of this action, all Federal financially assisted projects proposed for the area will be subject to EPA review to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed such that they do not bring about, or in any way contribute to, conditions creating a significant hazard to public health.

    DATES

    This determination shall be promulgated for purposes of judicial review 1:00 P.M. Eastern time on June 27, 1988.

    ADDRESS: The data upon 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 II, Office of Ground Water Management, Room 842, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278. The designation petition submitted may also be inspected during normal business hours at the Cortland County Health Department, Cortland County Office Building, 60 Central Avenue, Cortland, NY 13045.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John S. Malleck, Office of Ground Water Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II at 212-264-5635.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

    I. Background

    Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C., 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523) states:

    (e) 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, ifcontaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish a notice of the determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any 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 law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

    On September 15, 1987, EPA received a petition from the Cortland County Legislature requesting designation of the CHPA as a sole source aquifer. EPA determined that the petition, after receipt and review of additional information requested on October 28, 1987, was complete. A public hearing was held on March 3, 1988 at the Cortland County Office Building, Cortland, NY, in accordance with all applicable notification and procedural requirements. All comments received during the comment period were in favor of designation.

    II. Basis for the Determination

    Among the factors considered by the Regional Administrator as part of the technical review process for designating an area under section 1424(e) were: (1) That the aquifer is the sole or principal source (more than 50 percent) of drinking water for the defined aquifer service area, and that the volume of water available from all alternate sources is insufficient to replace the petitioned aquifer; and (2) that contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health. On the basis of technical information available to EPA at this time, the Regional Administrator has made the following findings in favor of designating the CHPA as a sole source aquifer:

    1. The CHPA is the sole source of drinking water to approximately 35,000 residents of the aquifer service area, which includes the City of Cortland, the Towns of Cortlandville, Homer, Preble, and Scott, and the Villages of Homer and McGraw.

    2. There are no reasonable alternative sources capable of supplying a sufficient quantity of drinking water source to the population served by the petitioned aquifer system.

    3. Although all public water supply wells meet or exceed the appropriate Federal and State drinking water standards, there have been several cases of private well contamination by organic solvents. In addition, the CPHA is considered highly vulnerable to contamination, due to high soil permeability and shallow depth to ground water. Potential sources of contamination include transportation routes, septic systems, highway, rural and urban runoff, commercial and industrial facilities, and agricultural practices.

    III. Description of the CHPA, Designated Are and Project Review Area

    The CHPA underlines the northwestern portion of Cortland County and the extreme southern portion of Onondaga County, New York. The aquifer system is delineated by the glacial outwash and stratified drift deposits filling five valleys which meet in the vicinity of the City of Cortland,and covers approximately 25 square miles. The designated area is coincident with that defined by the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Health as a Primary Water Supply Aquifer.

    The aquifer service area is coincident with the designated area. It includes approximately 35,000 residents in the City of Cortland, the Towns of Cortlandville, Homer, Preble, and Scott, and the Villages of Homer and McGraw.

    The recharge area for the CHPA is the designated valley and the upland areas that drain into them. The streamflow source zone is defined as the upstream area of losing streams which flow into the recharge area. In the Cortland-Homer-Preble area, the streamflow source zone is delineated by the boundaries of the Tioughnioga River drainage basin upstream of the southern end of the designated area (near Blodgett Mills, NY).

    Because contaminants introduced in any of these areas have the potential to affect the CHPA, the project review area is defined to include the aquifer service area, the recharge area and the streamflow source zone.

    A map delineating the designated area is available, and may be obtained by contacting the person listed previously.

    IV. Information Utilized in Determination

    The information utilized in this determination included petition sub-mitted by the Cortland County Legislature, various U.S. Geological Survey and New York State reports submitted with the petition, information contained in EPA files, and written and verbal comments from the public. These materials are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the address listed previously.

    V. Project Review

    Publication of this determination requires that EPA review proposed projects with Federal financial assistance in order to ensure that such projects do not have the potential to contaminate the CHPA through its recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health. In many cases, these 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, are required by Federal law (under the so-called "NEPA/309" process) to be reviewed and commented upon by the EPA Administrator.

    In order to streamline EPA review of the possible environmental impacts on designated aquifers, when an action is to be analyzed in an EIS, the two reviews will be consolidated and both authorities cited. The EPA review under section 1424(e) will be therefore be included in the EPA review of the EIS (under NEPA).

    VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comment

    The public comments received expressed strong support for the designation of the CHPA, as petitioned, as a Sole Source Aquifer. Eleven persons, representing local governments and environmental organizations, presented statements at the public hearing. Two written states in favor of designation were received.

    In additional, written comments were received from NYSDEC. These comments were in favor of the designation, but expressed concern that the northern portion of the aquifer system (that portion in Onondaga County), not included in the petition, would not be designated.

    The response to NYSDEC's concern is that, whenever possible, the boundaries of sole source aquifers are based on hydro-geologic criteria rather than political boundaries, because contamination of a portion of the aquifer can affect the down gradient portion of the aquifer. The area recommended for designation is consistent with that requested by NYSDEC.

    VII. Summary

    Today's action affects the CHPA, located in Cortland and Onondaga Counties, New York. Projects with Federal financial assistance proposed for portions of Cortland, Onondaga and Madison Counties will be reviewed to ensure that necessary ground water protection measures are incorporated into them.

    Dated: June 3, 1988.

    Christopher J. Daggett, Regional Administrator
    Environmental Protection Agency, Region II.

    [FR Doc. 8813215 Filed 6/10/88; 8:45 am]
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