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EPA Approves Plan to Assess Drinking Water Sources Statewide

Release Date: 4/19/2000
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA -- The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved
a new drinking water assessment program for Pennsylvania that will evaluate the potential for a community’s drinking water supply to become contaminated. Assessments will look at both surface and ground water sources.

The program, entitled the Source Water Assessment Program, is required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

If a drinking water source were to be contaminated, a community might have to develop a new source which could be complicated and costly. Drinking water can be contaminated by many everyday activities, including agricultural and urban runoff, leaking underground storage tanks, oil spills or failing septic systems.

Assessments will provide information to water suppliers and their customers to help plan for the future and protect sensitive drinking water sources.

"The goal of the program is to empower communities to protect their drinking water. We hope that the assessments will greatly increase public awareness of potential drinking water impacts made by the way we live on the land. We believe this awareness will motivate communities to protect this valuable and vulnerable resource," said EPA Regional Administrator Bradley Campbell.

Over the next three and a half years, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting assessments for more than 14,000 sources of drinking water in
the Commonwealth.

The agency will use existing information about water quality, land use, and facilities that have the potential for contaminating water, to conduct the assessments. For larger public water systems, the agency will hold local meetings to obtain additional information.

Watershed-by-watershed, source water assessments will identify the area contributing water to a well or intake (which is called the source water protection area), inventory potential sources of contamination within the source water protection area, and determine how susceptible the source water is to possible contamination.

Once an assessment is completed, costumers will be notified in through annual consumer confidence reports. The consumer confidence report provides users of a community water system a report card on the quality of their drinking water, its source, and protection efforts. In addition, DEP will be tracking its progress on their website ( and providing copies of the assessments in locally accessible facilities such as the county library or health department.

Although the source water assesment program focuses on public water supplies, it can also benefit residents using private water supplies because they will now have access to more information about the quality of the water in their local watershed.

In the mid-Atlantic region, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland all have EPA approved plans for drinking water assessment programs.