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Release Date: 3/23/1999
Contact Information: Bonnie J. Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Pennsylvania’s wellhead protection program, a voluntary program for communities, which can safeguard drinking water for three million citizens.

That’s the number of Pennsylvanians who get drinking water that public water suppliers pump from wells.

"Pennsylvania’s wellhead protection program reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to protecting critical underground sources of drinking water.  EPA supports wellhead protection in Pennsylvania," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.  During 1997 and 1998, EPA provided DEP with a total of $500,000.  This year Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is eligible to receive additional funds for this important component of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  These funds will be awarded as small grants to communities.

Drinking water can be contaminated if pollution occurs anywhere within the wellhead protection area.  It can be contaminated in many ways, including: underground storage tanks leaking oil, pesticides leaching into the soil, or improperly situated or maintained on-site wastewater disposal systems spilling harmful bacteria.  Wellheads are the point where the water rushes into the well.  The wellhead protection area is a wide, often irregularly shaped area, from which the water is drawn to the well.

Community-driven wellhead protection can include community planning, identifying wellhead areas that need protection, identifying potential contaminants, and managing the protected area.  If your community is interested in launching a wellhead protection program call Pennsylvania DEP’s Bureau of Water Supply Management at 717-772-4018 or visit their website at

Local and state governments, and water suppliers promote wellhead protection through public education, health regulations, monitoring surveys, zoning ordinances,  land acquisition, and other types of local planning.

The wellhead protection program is designed to protect public water supplies -- water pumped from wells by water companies.  But it is important to note that, in Pennsylvania, an additional 1.5 million people using private wells could
also voluntarily use these same methods to protect their private water supply.

Wellhead protection is another important way that citizens can actively participate in protecting their own environment.  This year is the 25th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Its goal is to protect the health of  the public by protecting the quality of drinking water.


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