Source Water Protection Plans-Community Groundwater Supplies
Maryland Department of the Environment
What was the challenge?
B&L staff members were retained by MDE to prepare source water assessments for over 300 public groundwater supplies located across two Maryland counties underlain by hydrogeologically complex, fractured bedrock aquifers. We delineated wellhead protection areas, identified and mapped contamination hazards, assessed the susceptibility of the subject wells to contamination and formulated specific strategies to reduce the future risk of contamination. Many of the wells were susceptible to contamination as a consequence of their condition.
MDE again engaged us to update previous SWAP reports for 12 multi-source community groundwater-supplied utilities deemed particularly vulnerable to future groundwater supply contamination. We updated delineations, performed new point and non-point source inventories of potential contamination hazards, reviewed water quality testing records in quantitative detail and developed myriad, implementable recommendations for better source water protection.
How did Barton & Loguidice provide a solution?
The obvious means for improving source water protection is through land use restriction ordinances. Oftentimes municipalities were reluctant to embrace recommendations for ordinance revisions, as they seemed anti-business in nature.
We embarked on a program of public workshops and presentations to allay the fears of elected officials and educate the regulated community on the need for and benefit of protective ordinances and other less prescriptive measure of source water assessment. In many cases, acceptance by the benefiting municipalities and affected property owners was successfully achieved through education.
Why was the project a success?
We identified several instances of seemingly incompatible land uses proximal to one or more of the wells; changed or relocated operations that mitigated the future risk of contamination. In several cases, expensive efforts to address chronic contamination were shelved in favor of more cost-effective and simple solutions on a hazard-specific basis. We also recommended improved wellhead protection including hazard reduction measures, wellhead integrity maintenance, contingency planning, customized water quality sampling protocols, contaminant release response protocols and public awareness in the form of focused outreach to the well owners.