Wellhead Protection is a way to prevent drinking water from becoming polluted by managing potential sources of contamination in the area which supplies water to a public well. Much can be done to prevent pollution, such as the wise use of land and chemicals. Public health is protected and the expense of treating polluted water or drilling new wells is avoided through wellhead protection efforts.
Groundwater often moves very slowly. Once it is contaminated, it may remain so for a long time, and may be difficult and expensive to locate the source and remove the contaminant.
The Minnesota Groundwater Protection Act of 1989 granted the Commissioner of Health authority to develop wellhead protection measures for wells serving public water supplies (this rule does not apply to private wells). This action was in response to the 1986 amendment of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in which states are required to implement wellhead protection programs for public water supply wells.
Wellhead protection is a way to prevent contaminants from entering the area where drinking water is drawn. Specifically, community public water systems like New Brighton's are required to delineate, inventory, and manage an inner wellhead management zone. Additionally, they must create a formal wellhead protection plan.
The wellhead protection planning process is broken down into two parts. Part one updates the wellhead protection area and drinking water supply management area, and re-assesses the vulnerability of the municipal wells. Part two updates the wellhead protection plan, including goals, objectives, plans of action, program evaluations, and contingency plans. The New Brighton City Council approved the Wellhead Protection Plan in October 2013.
The process to create a Well Head Protection Area (WHPA) and Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) consists of two parts (see Part 1 [PDF] and Part 2 [PDF]). Our full plan development took us nearly 5 years to complete and will be updated every ten years going forward.
The goals of the Wellhead Protection Program:
- Maintain or improve the water quality of the City's water supply
- Work with the surrounding cities with the goal of protecting the source water aquifers
- Provide information and promote activities that protect the aquifers used by the City
- Collect data to support future Wellhead Protection work
Our approved Wellhead Protection plan includes action items for protecting the source water aquifers within the DWSMA and covers the following categories:
- Well management - Proper maintenance and sealing of private wells
- Potential contaminant source properties - Most important action: continue to operate the PGACWTF
- Public education - Quality of the City's drinking water and Awareness/understanding of the Wellhead Protection Program
- Land use management
- Continued data collection - Geologic/hydrogeologic data and Periodically update potential contaminant source information