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Water Supply Section - Ground Water Protection Branch

The Ground-Water Protection Branch of the Water Supply Section is responsible for the ground-water protection program, source water assessment and protection program, and wellhead protection program. Hydrologists and environmental scientists of this branch provide technical expertise needed to protect the ground-water resources of Delaware. Responsibilities include regulatory review, resource assessment, database quality control, and public education.

Ground Water Protection Program
This program is responsible for providing technical review of permit applications for non-hazardous waste sites (large septic, wastewater spray irrigation, sludge application) and for water well permit applications where wells are located near problem sites. Staff hydrologists also conduct investigations based on public complaints of ground-water quality, often associated with domestic water wells. In addition, this program oversees the Coastal Sussex Saltwater Monitoring Network and the Potomac Aquifer Saltwater Monitoring Network which monitor sensitive coastal aquifers for saltwater intrusion.

Overall ground-water quality is evaluated biennially annually as part of the Delaware Watershed Assessment Report (305b) April 2000. The Ground-Water Sampling Manual is being updated to provide quality control of ground-water samples.

In 1999 the U.S. EPA endorsed the Delaware Comprehensive State Ground Water Protection Program (CSGWPP). The CSGWPP provides a description of ground-water resource protection and assessment throughout Delaware. The CSGWPP also provides a framework for better focus and coordination across multiple ground-water protection programs. Technical staff of the ground-water protection program participates in the Delaware Whole Basin Initiative to assure incorporation of ground-water resources in each of the 4 Delaware basins - Piedmont, Chesapeake, Inland Bays/Atlantic Ocean, and Delaware Bay. Staff hydrologists also occasionally provide presentations to educate the public and regulated community on Delaware geology, hydrology, and regulatory programs.

Source Water Assessment and Protection Program
This program provides for the assessment and protection of sources of public drinking water, both surface and ground water. The assessment consists of these critical steps:

  • Delineation of Source Water areas;
  • Identification of existing and potential sources of contamination;
  • Assessment of the susceptibility of the source water area to contamination.

The Delaware Environmental Navigator (DEN) identifies the location and status of both existing and potential sources of contamination within the State. Most potential point sources have been mapped and rated.

Delaware's approach to source water assessment is outlined and described in the Delaware Source Water Assessment Plan (SWAP) (October 1999) that was recently endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Considerable public involvement was included in both the development of the plan and in the dissemination of the SWAP to the public. Information on the program is available on the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program website.

Wellhead Protection Plan

The Delaware Wellhead Protection Plan (WHPP) was approved by EPA in 1990. The WHPP provided for delineation of wellhead protection areas around public water supply wells. This program envisions a seven-step process for protecting critical wellhead areas around these wells:

  1. Duties and Responsibilities
  2. Wellhead Protection Area Delineation
  3. Contaminant Source Identification
  4. Management Approaches
  5. New Wells and Wellfields
  6. Contingency Planning
  7. Public Participation

Steps 2, 3, 5, and 7 are now included in the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program. The remaining steps are protective in nature and include steps 1, 4, and 6. Protection of these critical areas is handled through regulatory authorities and statutes, and prioritization of non-regulatory efforts. Progress in implementing this program and the SWAPP is found in the Wellhead Protection Program Biennial Report (October 1999).

Branch Manager: Matthew T. Grabowski
Phone: 302-739-9945

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