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Drinking Water in New England

Cape Cod FR

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Michael Hill • 617) 918-1398

(Cite as: 47 FR 30282)

NOTICES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY.

[W-1-FRL 2133-6]

Cape Cod Aquifer Determination

Tuesday, July 13, 1982

*30282 AGENCY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Final determination.

SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Cape Cod aquifer is the sole or principal source of drinking water for Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and that the Cape Cod aquifer, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. As a result of this action, Federal financially assisted projects constructed anywhere on Cape Cod will be subject to EPA review to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed so that they do not *30283 create a significant hazard to public health.

ADDRESSES: The data on which these findings are based are available to the public and may be inspectd during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, Drinking Water Branch, J.F. Kennedy Federal Building, Boston, Massachusetts, 02203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Steven J. Koorse, Drinking Water Branch, Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, at (617) 223-6688.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is hereby given that pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523) the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Cape Cod aquifer is the sole or principal source of drinking water for Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Pursuant to Section 1424(e), Federal financially assisted projects constructed anywhere on Cape Cod will be subject to EPA review.

I. Background

Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water 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 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 March 4, 1981, EPA received a petition from the Cape Cod Planning and Economic Development Commission requesting EPA to designate the Cape Cod aquifer as a sole source aquifer. In response to this petition, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register on November 16, 1981 (46 Fed. Reg. 56232), announcing a public comment period and setting a public hearing date. A public hearing was conducted on January 4, 1982, and the public was allowed to submit comments on the petition until February 12, 1982.

II. Basis for Determination

Among the factors to be considered by the Administrator in connection with the designation of an area under Section 1424(e) are: (1) Whether the aquifer is the area's sole or principal source of drinking water, and (2) whether contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health.

On the basis of information available to this Agency, the Administrator has made the following findings, which are the bases for the determination noted above:

  • The Cape Cod aquifer is a single continuous aquifer which currently serves as the "sole source" of drinking water for the approximately 147,725 permanent residents and 424,445 peak seasonal residents of Cape Cod.
  • There is no existing alternative drinking water source, or combination of sources, which provides fifty percent or more of the drinking water to the designated area, nor is there any reasonably available alternative future source capable of supplying Cape Cod's drinking water demands.
  • The Cape Cod aquifer is glacial in origin and is composed of unconsolidated sand, gravel, silt and clay deposits. As a result of its highly permeable soil characteristics, the Cape Code aquifer is susceptible to contamination through its recharge zone from a number of sources, including but not limited to, chemical spills, highway runoff, septic tanks, leaking storage tanks, and leaching from open dumps. There is present evidence of localized contamination of the aquifer from chemical spills, individual disposal systems, leaking fuel tanks, and wastewater treatment systems. Since ground water contamination can be difficult or impossible to reverse, and since this aquifer is relied on for drinking water purposes by the general population, contamination of the aquifer would pose a significant hazard to public health.

III. Description of the Cape Cod Aquifer and Its Recharge Zone

Cape Cod, located within Barnstable County in southeastern Massachusetts, is a peninsula that extends 40 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. It is 440 square miles in area and is separated from the mainland by Cape Cod Canal. The area in which Federal financially assisted projects will be subject to review is the area that includes the Cape Cod aquifer, its streamflow source zone, and its recharge zone, which are one and the same.

For purposes of this designation, the Cape Cod aquifer is considered a single continuous aquifer, with the Cape Cod Canal, Cape Cod Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay its lateral boundaries. Similarly, the recharge zone boundaries of the aquifer will be regarded as coterminous with the lateral boundaries of the aquifer.

IV. Information Utilized in Determination

The information utilized in this determination includes the petition, written and verbal comments submitted by the public, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency technical publications, and a ground water resources study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (Cape Cod Aquifer, Water-Resources Investigation 80- 571). The above data is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, Drinking Water Branch, J. F. Kennedy Federal Building, Boston, Massachusetts.

V. Project Review

EPA Region I is working with the Federal agencies that may in the future provide financial assistance to projects in the area of concern. Interagency procedures are being developed in which EPA will be notified of proposed commitments by Federal agencies for projects which could contaminate the Cape Cod aquifer. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comments where appropriate. Should the Administrator determine that a project may contaminate the aquifer through its recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for Federal financial assistance may be entered into. However, 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.

Although the project review process cannot be delegated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will rely to the maximum extent possible on any existing or future State and local control mechanisms in protecting the ground water quality of theCape Cod aquifer. Included in the review of any Federal financially assisted project will be coordination with the State and local agencies. Their comments will be given full consideration and the Federal review process will attempt to complement and support State and local ground water protection mechanisms.

*30284 VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comments

Most of the comments received from Federal, State and local government agencies and from the public were strongly in favor of designation. Only three commenters expressed any reservations regarding the designation. One commenter felt that EPA currently has sufficient ground water protection mechanisms, which together with State and local mechanisms, render a sole source designation unnecessary. Although a number of ground water protection measures are available at the Federal, State and local level, none of these, either individually or collectively, permit EPA to act as directly and comprehensively as would a sole source designation in the review and approval of Federal financially assisted projects. In addition, EPA feels that the sole source project review process will foster integration rather than duplication of environmental review efforts.

Two commenters, although generally in favor of the designation, expressed concern that sole source designation might preclude the use of land application as a wastewater treatment technique on Cape Cod. If properly sited, designed, operated and maintained, land application treatment can be an environmentally sound and cost effective waste management alternative. Sole source designation will not interfere with the development of any environmentally sound waste management solutions for Cape Cod municipalities. Federal financial assistance will only be withheld in those instances where it is determined that a proposed project may contaminate the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health and no acceptable remedial measures are available to prevent the potential hazard.

VII. 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 as given in Section 601 of the RFA. This action is only applicable to Cape Cod. The only affected entities will be those Cape-based businesses, organizations or governmental jurisdictions that request Federal financial assistance for projects which have the potential for contaminating the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health. EPA does not expect to be reviewing small isolated commitments of financial assistance on an individual basis, unless a cumulative impact on the aquifer is anticipated; accordingly, the number of affected small entities will be minimal.

For those small entities which are subject to review, the impact of today's action will not be significant. Most projects subject to this review will be preceded by a groundwater impact assessment required pursuant to other Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq. 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 financial 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.

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, will not cause any major increase in costs or prices, and will not 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 Cape Cod. It provides an additional review of groundwater protection measures, incorporating State and local measures whenever possible, for only those projects which request Federal financial assistance. This regulation was submitted to OMB for review under EO 12291.

Dated: July 6, 1982.

Anne M. Gorsuch,

Administrator.

[FR Doc. 82-18830 Filed 7-12-82; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-M

47 FR 30282-02, 1982 WL 142948 (F.R.)

END OF DOCUMENT

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