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EPA Approves Plan to Assess Delaware’s Drinking Water Sources

Release Date: 10/27/1999
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

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

"Delaware’s source water assessment program reflects the state’s commitment to know how safe drinking water is, and what could potentially contaminate it," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe during an announcement at Brandywine Creek State Park Nature Center, located just north of Wilmington.

The watershed-based program will use a sophisticated computer program that graphically shows sources of public drinking water and identifies areas where the water sources could potentially be contaminated.

"This program will provide important information about the integrity of the sources of our public water supplies. It was a collaborative effort with more than 30 Delawareans participating on an advisory committee that helped develop the plan. It will add an additional level of protection for all Delawareans," said Delaware Governor Thomas R. Carper.

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 protect their source of drinking water, today and tomorrow.

Under the program, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will assess the sources of public drinking water supplies over the next 3 years. They will work with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, which is responsible for regulating Delaware’s 566 public water systems and is coordinating funding of the effort through an EPA grant. EPA has provided Delaware with $1.8 million to fund the Source Water Assessment Program through 2003.

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. Once the assessments are completed, community water systems can meet another requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act -- the consumer confidence reports. These reports provide users of a public water supply system a report card on the quality of their drinking water.

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.

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

For more information on Delaware’s source water assessment program, call the Division of Water Resources at 302-739-4793 or visit their website at http://www.dnrec.state.de.us.

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