Table 3-4: General Management Tools Available for the Wellhead Protection Area

"Oregon Wellhead Protection's TOP DOZEN List"

1. Public Education/Notification:

It is highly recommended that every Team consider implementing this option within the wellhead protection area. Every effort should be made to contact all property owners within the wellhead protection area so they are aware of the need for protection measures. Consider coordinating one or more "Community Groundwater Protection Workshops" where information is available and presentations are made to inform local residents of the connection between drinking water quality and activities on the land surface. DEQ and OHD can provide technical assistance or presentations at any workshop you wish to host. You may want to work with your local newspaper to reach others in a public education effort with public service ads, maps, and data. The DEQ Wellhead Protection Program (503-229-5279) can provide literature for distribution, as well as some excellent examples of ads and brochures.

FOCUS for educational effort:

Basic information about groundwater and the relationship between surface activities and groundwater quality.

Familiarity with the location of the protected area.

Basic information on sources of contamination.

Effective strategies for safe management of all potentail contaminants.

2. Sign Installation:
Information signs should be placed adjacent to all roadways entering the wellhead protection area. The signs should include the name of the water system or jurisdiction along with a phone number where callers can obtain more information. Example sign:

Be Careful With Our Drinking Water!

You are entering

Anytown Groundwater Protection Area


for more information.

(Call 911 to report any spills.)

3. Water Conservation Program:
Implementing water conservation measures in your community can significantly benefit wellhead protection efforts by reducing the pumping rates. Lower pumping rates mean reduced flow rates and less risk of moving any contamination. Conserving water may also help reduce the need for additional water sources in the near future. Water conservation can be accomplished through steps such as distribution of flow control devices, retrofitting high-flow toilets and washing machines, and recycling wastewater. Information on developing a water conservation program can be obtained from the Municipal Water Conservation Specialists at the Oregon Water Resources Department, 503-986-0900.
4. Public/Private Partnerships:
It is highly recommended that the RMA (or public jurisdictions) seek partnerships with the private business, commercial, and industrial communities within the wellhead protection area. These public/private partnerships can involve setting up a process for collaboration and finding common goals, such as maintaining low cost clean drinking water, encouraging best management practice applications, and continued economic prosperity in the region. Mutual benefits may include maximizing pollution prevention implementation in the community, public recognition of "green businesses", etc.
5. Hazardous Waste Collection:
Establishing a permanent location or holding one-day events to collect hazardous wastes from community residents (both small businesses and households) is a very effective way to reduce risks posed by storing hazardous wastes within the wellhead protection area. This would be a very important element of a local plan addressing any areas with septic tanks as it would potentially reduce the amount of household hazardous wastes dumped into the drains and toilets. More information can be obtained from DEQ's Waste Management and Cleanup Division at 503-229-5913; ask for assistance with household hazardous waste collection. (More information on Household Hazardous Waste will be provided in the Residential/Municipal management section below as well.)
6. Spill Response Plans:
In addition to addressing spill response procedures as part of the contingency plan (Step 6 - Section 3-6), jurisdictions within wellhead protection areas could develop specific spill response procedures to allow quicker response and notifications should a hazardous material spill or release occur within the wellhead protection area. These can be integrated into your county's Emergency Management Plan. Emergency Management Plans are required for Oregon counties, but are optional for cities. The Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) staff can help with the development of spill response plans, can help you locate your county's coordinator, and let you know if your county has an existing approved emergency plan. OEM can be reached at 503-378-2911 in Salem.
7. Zoning/Health Ordinances:
There are many different types of zoning tools. Your community can identify the wellhead protection area with an overlay map, then potentially use a special permitting requirement to monitor new building applicants and some chemical uses. Alternatively, your Team may want to develop a public health ordinance that minimizes the risk of contaminating the public water supply. Appendix E of this document contains a sample ordinance from a small community using an overlay approach to create a wellhead protection district. EPA also compiled an extensive set of sample ordinances from communities across the country. Information about the "Wellhead Protection Compendium of Ordinances" can be obtained by contacting DLCD at 503-373-0050 in Salem.
8. Groundwater Monitoring Program:
Collecting data from existing monitoring/supply wells or from newly installed wells can help your community detect any contaminants that may threaten the water supply in the near future. This is especially useful downgradient of the higher-risk sources in the wellhead protection area. Use the resources listed in Appendix B of this document to help you locate any wells and active groundwater cleanup sites in the area. You will need to contact DEQ (503-229-5913) and WRD (503-378-8455) for this information.
9. Property Purchase/Donation Program:
Community ownership of as much as possible of the land within the wellhead protection area obviously provides some of the best assurances of long-term protection of the public water supply. Protection could be provided by ownership accomplished through methods such as capital or bond fund programs, or through easements and deed restrictions. Acquisitions of land could also be coordinated through private non-profit land conservation organizations in Oregon such as River Network (503-241-3506), Nature Conservancy (503-228-9561), Trust for Public Land (503-228-6620) or local land trusts in your area. These organizations can assist you in acquiring land within your wellhead protection area by conveyance to a trust, seeking donations, or direct land purchases for conservation.
10. Septic System Upgrades/Maintenance Program:
Septic systems are discussed in more detail in the Residential/Municipal subsection below. Septic systems are very common sources of nitrate contamination in groundwater. Many areas of Oregon already have nitrate contamination problems. If your wellhead protection area contains high-density areas (>1 septic system/acre) of septic, you may want to initiate an effort to upgrade these, or at least implement a voluntary or mandatory program for maintenance. For example, septic systems should be pumped out every 2-3 years for proper functioning. We would also highly recommend that you consider implementing a septic tank cleaner ban or prohibition within your wellhead protection area. Most septic system cleaners contain solvents which are extremely threatening to your groundwater quality. Any ban on these substances would need to have an educational component associated with it since it will likely be very difficult to enforce, so you'll need to count on voluntary compliance. Information on septic systems and maintenance can be obtained by calling DEQ's Water Quality Division at 503-229-5279.
11. Special Chemical Use/Transport Prohibition:
Another general tool for your consideration may be a prohibition of the use or transport of high risk chemical compounds which produce severe groundwater contamination if released into the environment. Compounds called dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLS) are generally considered to cause irreversible groundwater contamination when they are released into groundwater. Examples of DNAPLS commonly used in Oregon include solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), 1,1,1-trichlorethane (TCA), vinyl chloride, chlorobenzene, and wood-preservatives such as pentachlorophenol (PCP). These compounds have already been detected in over 80 public water systems in Oregon. Control and/or treatment is typically very expensive for local jurisdictions to address. Your Team may want to consider a threshold amount for the prohibition (such as one gallon) or limiting the implementation of the prohibition to a certain distance from your supply well(s) (such as 2,000'). The DEQ Wellhead Protection Program staff (503-229-5279) can work with any local jurisdiction to assist in developing a site- specific chemical use prohibition plan. NOTE: Any potential restrictions related to pesticides on properties not owned by the jurisdiction must be administered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (503-378-3810).
12. Potential Source Restrictions:
Local communites may also want to consider establishing and implementing restrictions on the placement of some high-risk potential contaminant sources such as underground storage tanks, dry wells, sumps, injection wells, lagoons, and/or landfills within the wellhead protection area.