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EPA Approves Plan to Assess West Virginia’s Drinking Water Sources

Release Date: 11/16/1999
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a new drinking water assessment program for West Virginia that focuses on evaluating public drinking water sources, both surface and groundwater. The program, entitled the Source Water Assessment Program, is required by the 1996 amendments of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

"Our belief is that the assessments will greatly increase the public’s awareness of how land use activities directly influence the sources of their drinking water and encourage local communities to protect their valuable and vulnerable resources," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.

Under the program, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will assess over the next 3 years the sources of drinking water supplies for more than 1,400 water systems to determine the potential for contamination.

"I commend the considerable effort that has been expended in establishing this program, which will provide valuable information in assessing, preserving, and protecting the state’s source water, which are used to supply water for the state’s public drinking water supply systems," said Joan Ohl, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

If a drinking water source were to be contaminated, a community might have to develop a new source. This program provides information that allows a public water supply system to protect their source of drinking water.

Drinking water can be contaminated by everyday activities, by oil or industrial spills or by agricultural runoff. The assessment will allow a public water system to plan for the future and focus on how to protect sensitive drinking water sources.

Local and state government, and water suppliers can use information from the assessment to further protect drinking water through public education, health regulations, monitoring surveys, zoning ordinances, land acquisition, and other types of local planning.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources encourages local citizens to get involved in the assessment process. The participation of citizen groups such as retired volunteers has proven effective in drinking water protection activities in the past.

Once an assessment is completed for a community water system, the system will advertize how consumers can get a copy of the source water assessment conducted for the water system in their annual consumer confidence reports. These reports provide users of a public water supply system a report card on the quality of their drinking water, information about its source, and any protection efforts that the system has taken.