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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a source water protection award to the Borough of Springdale water department in Allegheny County, Pa., for its efforts to protect drinking water sources.
“The Borough of Springdale water department is receiving this award for taking several proactive measures to help ensure that residents will continue to have access to safe and healthy drinking water,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “Drinking water is a finite and precious resource so we applaud the borough’s efforts.”
Actions taken by Springdale, the birthplace of Rachel Carson, include creating a wellhead protection committee that set up a wellhead protection plan. The plan identifies actual and potential sources of contamination to the well field where the borough gets its drinking water.
Springdale also established a student education program and developed brochures and newsletters to teach residents about protecting drinking water sources. The borough has created beneficial partnerships with local industries and businesses, and held household hazardous waste pick-up events. Springdale is also working with neighboring municipalities, Harmar Township and Cheswick Borough to protect their groundwater recharge areas.
“We know that the health of our community depends upon clean drinking water, so we are committed to protecting the sources,” said James Dugan, chairman of the Springdale water plant, and a borough council member.
Springdale learned first-hand about the need to manage and protect their wellhead area from recent history. Runoff from a storm caused a salt storage pile to leach into the ground, which increased the sodium level in the drinking water supply. The community also dealt with impacts of contaminants leaking from an underground storage tank into the ground.
Springdale will be developing three monitoring wells that will be sampled weekly to provide an early warning detection system for water supply wells.
EPA’s source water protection awards encourage communities with public drinking water systems to take steps to protect these sources. The award is open to individuals, and public and private organizations throughout EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, which includes Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, the District of Columbia and Maryland.
Recipients have voluntarily gone beyond what the law requires to protect their communities.
In 1996, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act was amended to give greater protection to millions of Americans who rely on public drinking water systems. By law, all states must develop source water assessments for every public water supply, but it is up to the local authorities to develop plans and measures to protect drinking water sources from contamination.