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DEP Approves Source Water Plan for Appalachian Utilities
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 08/11/2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved a Source Water Protection Plan for Appalachian Utilities, Inc., which delivers drinking water to approximately 3,000 people in Avis Borough and Pine Creek Township, Clinton County.

The plan, which Appalachian created with technical and funding assistance from DEP, presents a proactive strategy to safeguard the public's water supplies.

"Source Water Protection Plans are guidebooks to help local water suppliers provide a continuous high-quality and quantity water flow to their customers," said Marcus Kohl, DEP North-central Regional Director. "When implemented effectively, these plans can reduce the cost of water treatment, decrease risk to human health, and preserve water resources for future generations."

Plans include maps of source water protection zones, showing the areas around wellheads from which water flows to replenish drinking water sources, and recommend steps to protect drinking water supplies by reducing or eliminating risks from Potential Sources of Contamination (PSOCs) in those zones.

PSOCs are locally specific, based on geologic features, land use, population density, and legacy pollution. The Appalachian Utilities plan reduced the potential for contamination from an identified PSOC by having the utility enter an easement with adjacent property owners, limiting timber harvests and land disturbance in perpetuity.

Source Water Protection Plans also save resources by using technology to more accurately delineate areas that provide groundwater recharge to the water supply.

"In the past, a circle might have been drawn in a prescribed radius around a wellhead, and we worked inside that circle," said Mark Stephens, groundwater geologist in DEP's North-central Regional Office. "But that didn't reflect the reality of how aquifers work. Mapping the groundwater recharge area in detail saves money by refining sampling and monitoring to omit locations that don't influence the water supply and providing a more accurate assessment of the real threats where efforts should be focused."

The approval of the Appalachian Utilities plan marks the 92nd Source Water Protection Plan completed in DEP's North-central Region. Those plans collectively protect 105 community water systems.

Drinking water suppliers and other local stakeholders have worked with DEP to form source water protection coalitions across the North-central Region. These coalitions help to implement these plans, particularly public education and outreach components.

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