On behalf of Gov. Mark Schweiker, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary David E. Hess recently announced Source Water Protection (SWP) grants are available for community water systems and municipalities to develop wellhead or watershed-protection programs.
"These plans help safeguard Pennsylvania's public drinking water supplies by protecting them at the source," Secretary Hess said. "By managing development and activities that take place in the area surrounding the source of a drinking-water supply, communities can better protect public health and infrastructure by avoiding costly contamination."
To date, DEP has awarded more than $1.3 million in Source Water Protection grants to 31 municipalities or community water systems for local SWP program development. The application deadline for this grant round is Feb. 8.
Grant requests can be up to $50,000 for wellhead protection (groundwater source) projects, and up to $200,000 for watershed protection (surface water source) with a 10-percent match required from the municipality or water supplier.
Eligible costs covered by the grants include wellhead protection area delineation; contaminant source inventories; source-water protection area management and planning; public education; and contingency planning including security enhancements.
"Source water protection grants are invaluable to help communities protect existing water supplies," Secretary Hess said. "But we also need to go one step further and pass new water-resources legislation to help identify areas of Pennsylvania where the demand for clean water will exceed the available supply."
A water-resources initiative proposed by the Schweiker Administration would accomplish four objectives: update the state water plan; identify critical water planning areas where demand may soon exceed water supply; create a water conservation program for Pennsylvania; and set water well-construction standards.
Instructions for Source Water Protection grant applications are available from DEP's Bureau of Watershed Management, and can be accessed through the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us  or directly on DEP's website www.dep.state.pa.us .