South Harrison Water Corp.
The US EPA was authorized by congress with the passage of the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act to help utilities prevent well contamination. To meet USEPA's guidelines, the State of Indiana, through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), has mandated that all owners of water wells that supply the public, must develop and submit for their approval, a Wellhead Protection Plan. This detailed plan contains many parts. Its primary objective is to help utilities protect the source of our drinking water from possible sources of contamination, before any contamination occurs. In this respect the rule is unique. The rule is strictly preventative in nature.
The parts of a Wellhead Protection Plan include (1) forming a local planning team, (2) a well field delineation report, (3) a potential source of contamination inventory, (4) a management plan, and (5) a contingency plan.
We completed our plan and submitted it to IDEM as required by the rule deadline. Many thanks to our volunteer Local Planning Team for their efforts in helping to complete the plan. The first part, forming a Local Planning Team, is very important to the success of the overall plan. SHWC has a Local Planning Team made up of stakeholders and other members of the public that are assisting us with our Wellhead Protection Plan. To complete the second part, well field delineation, SHWC had to contract with a professional hydrogeologist. This consultant completed a groundwater flow study to determine from where our well water originates. The consultant then determined a five and ten year "ground water time of travel" boundary around our well field. It is within this boundary that SHWC must try to inventory and control possible points of contamination. SHWC's delineation area contains only farm ground and river bottoms. We are fortunate that no residences, septic systems, or underground storage tanks are in our well field area. Our wellfield delineation report was submitted and approved by IDEM. The next step was to submit our entire plan for approval. The plan was submitted before the March 28, 2001 deadline. The entire Well Head Protection Plan - Phase I was officially approved by IDEM on April 14, 2003.
The Phase I plan is complete and submitted as required by law. We are now in the Phase II portion of our plan, which is the actual implementation and management of the well head protection area.
Regarding the Phase II portion of our plan, many steps have been taken to further protect our drinking water resource. We have trained our first responders in the critical nature of protecting drinking water sources. We have undertaken public education efforts in respect to protecting water resources. We have taken our well field property out of agricultural (row crop) production and entered it into the CRP program. By planting native grasses and repairing erosion damage, we hope to limit the possibility of fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide contamination. We have also completed a huge project in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers to stabalize the river bank with 5,000 tons of large rip-rap (limestone) to prevent further loss of the river bank around our main water well.
The Phase II portion of our plan was due to IDEM by April 10, 2010. We met this deadline.
We were notified by IDEM on July 15, 2010 that our Phase II plan was approved and now is in effect.
We were also notified by IDEM that we have been awarded the "Hoosier Water Guardian Award - With Distinction". This award is given by IDEM to water utilities that have demonstrated a long term commitment to protecting water sources through their well head protection plans. It is a great honor to receive this award. Mr. Pat Carroll, Chief of IDEM's Drinking Water Branch, attended our Annual Membership Meeting in May of 2011 to present this award to South Harrison.
We are required to provide 5 year updates to our well head protection plan. Our first 5 year update was submitted and approved by IDEM in 2015.
In 2018, SHW learned that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has purchase over 700 acres of property that surround our water wells. We are working hand in hand with TNC to further protect our drinking water source. There are no definite plans to announce yet, but we are working with their representatives and there are many possibilities to explore.
All of these steps are being taken in an effort to protect our very valuable drinking water resource. Other efforts are ongoing.