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Drinking Water in New England

Wellhead Protection Program

Recognizing that the best way to maintain high quality drinking water is to prevent contaminants from reaching drinking water sources, in 1986 the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended to require states to develop Wellhead Protection Programs. Through this program, states help communities to:

  • form a local team which will assist with protection of public supply wells in their area;
  • determine the land area which provides water to public supply wells;
  • identify existing and potential sources of contamination;
  • manage potential sources of contamination to minimize their threat to drinking water sources; and
  • develop a contingency plan to prepare for an emergency well closing and to plan for future water supply needs.

Photo of  Well Head Protection Area Sign

All six New England states began carrying out EPA-approved Wellhead Protection Programs in 1990. In 1997 the New England states reported that 62% of community water systems using ground water (serving 5,037,529 people) have taken action to protect their sources from contamination. Through the newer Source Water Assessment Program many wellhead protection programs developed in the early 1990's are being updated.

Diagram of Wellhead Protection Area. Courtesy of the American Ground Water Trust and NH Department  of Environmental Services. Click for a larger image.

Photo of a public water supply from Milton, NH.

Businesses play an important role in protecting drinking water sources. To learn about what businesses can do, click here. To learn about national efforts to protect drinking water sources or to learn about publications available from EPA about drinking water source protection click here . To learn more about your state's Wellhead Protection Program in New England, please call your state wellhead protection program manager or staff at the EPA Region 1, New England Office.

Other Information Sources

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