Town of Washington: Protecting the Wells of Washington

Info Packet

Acting Entity: City of Washington and Groundwater Management Assoc. Inc.

Contact Person: Curtis Consolvo
Cost: $25,000
Population Served: 9,615

Water Supply: Groundwater, Castle Hayne Aquifer, City of Washington
PWS ID: 0407010

Helping Organizations:
· Beaufort County Health Department
· Beaufort County Water
· NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
· East Carolina University

Funding Sources:
· City of Washington

Features:
· Washington proactively sought wellhead protection, worked with a nearby university to initiate studies and funded a graduate thesis project.
· Hydrogeological analyses were used to delineate wellhead protection areas and to target specific contaminant threats.
· The City of Washington Wellhead Protection Planning Team was instrumental in formulating program implementation strategies.
· The Wellhead Protection Program is an active tool versus a document on a shelf.

Summary: The North Carolina Wellhead Protection Program is actively implemented in the City of Washington. Even though the City of Washington had no problems with their groundwater supply, city officials recognized that a Wellhead Protection Plan was an intelligent, preventative measure to maintain excellent water quality. Innovative planning and proactive implementation have created an exemplary model for source water protection.

The City of Washington began wellhead protection efforts in 1995, with the help of the East Carolina University Geology Department. The City funded a research grant, and hydrogeologic studies were performed to delineate wellhead protection areas and to identify the types of potential contaminant sources that pose the most risk to city wells. Results of the studies indicate that the Castle Hayne Aquifer (the source of Washington's water) is overlain by strata that provide an effective, natural barrier to contaminants, and that the greatest threat to their wells was posed by other wells. Wells that have been improperly constructed/maintained/abandoned could act as conduits for contaminants at the land surface to reach the Castle Hayne Aquifer.

Groundwater Management Associates expanded study results in 2000 to meet newly-structured Wellhead Protection Plan requirements of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Health (NCDEH). The City of Washington's Wellhead Protection Plan was approved by the NCDEH in December 1999, and the city's new Wellhead Protection Program was implemented in 2000. The Wellhead Protection Planning Team was formed to implement and manage the program, and includes city, county, and state officials as members.

The Wellhead Protection Planning Team recognized the potential risk posed by improperly-constructed/maintained/abandoned wells, and developed unique management strategies to address this concern. A well survey was conducted, and owner/operators of potentially high-risk wells were visited to discuss the importance of proper well practices and to encourage participation in the Wellhead Protection Program. Educational materials were developed and distributed to all addresses within wellhead protection areas. The Team also encouraged county officials to consider a new county well ordinance to ensure that state well construction standards were being upheld.

Program management and implementation efforts continue on an on-going basis. The team meets yearly to perform annual program reviews. Any new concerns or newly identified potential contaminant sources are addressed and management strategies are developed for incorporation into the program.

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