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Components of A Wellhead Protection Plan

At a minimum, WHP Plans must include the following:

  1. Planning Team: Form a community planning team to initiate, develop and implement the WHP Plan.
  2. Delineation: A major component of a WHP Plan is the delineation of wellhead protection areas (WHPAs) around each public supply well. This step involves an inventory of all public supply wells included under the plan with basic information about each well including yield, depth, and source of supply, and a map showing each well location. The goal of delineation is to determine, the area around a water-supply well through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach the well. Several methods are available for determining the size and shape of the area.
  3. Inventory: Once the WHPAs have been delineated, the next step is to identify and locate potential contamination sources (PCSs) within the WHPAs. The PCS inventory is a comprehensive list of those land-use activities taking place within the delineated WHPA which pose a threat to groundwater. The purpose of the PCS inventory is to understand the nature and magnitude of potential threats to water quality and human health contained within WHPAs.Once the PCSs are identified, they must be ranked in terms of relative risk to PWS wells. Second, a determination must be made as to which public water supply wells are most vulnerable. In this way, the most vulnerable wells and the most significant PCSs are identified and dealt with first. Lists of PCSs, ranking methods, and detailed instructions concerning the development of a PCS inventory are found in the North Carolina Wellhead Protection Guidebook.
  4. Management: Protecting public underground water supplies requires the evaluation and application of management approaches to reduce the threat land-based contaminants pose to drinking water supplies. Public water suppliers implementing a WHP Plan must decide on appropriate methods for managing the threat posed by contamination sources identified in the PCS inventory. Some PCSs may not be a significant threat and may not require management. Others which may not require active management are those PCSs subject to existing federal and/or state regulatory programs.Both regulatory and non-regulatory management options are available to local governments in North Carolina. Many commonly used controls such as design and operating standards, substance restrictions, and activity restrictions have been successfully used for wellhead protection. Non- regulatory methods such as purchase of highly permeable recharge areas, household hazardous waste collection programs, and education also can be employed as wellhead protection measures. A local planning team must decide what methods are appropriate to protect the WHPA. Public water system suppliers having no regulatory authority must submit a plan for managing those areas around the well which the public water system supplier owns. Such public water system suppliers must demonstrate that enough land area is controlled to provide adequate protection to the well.
  5. Contingency Plan: A vital aspect of a WHP Program is the development of a contingency plan. This ensures that a community has an alternative water supply in the event of contamination of the primary source. The planning team should develop both short-term (<48 hours) emergency response alternatives and long-term or permanent water supply alternatives (when source is permanently impaired).The contingency plan should contain emergency response procedures to be implemented as soon as possible following a release of contaminants into the environment. These procedures should identify the appropriate personnel to contact at the local, state and federal level, the appropriate equipment to have on hand, and a structured plan of action to respond as quickly and effectively as possible, to mitigate any environmental damage resulting from such a release.
  6. Public Participation: A description of how public input was considered in developing the WHP Plan must be included in the WHP Plan.

Once a WHP Plan is in place, continued administration of the program is necessary in order for it to be successful. Administration includes the establishment of WHPAs for new wells, periodic well and well site inspection, periodically updating PCS inventories, and the review and revision of WHP management strategies.