Know Your EPA Water Rules: Sole Source Aquifers
What Is A Sole Source Aquifer?An aquifer is defined at 40 CFR 144.3 as “a geologic formation, group of formations, or part of a formation that is capable of yielding a significant amount of water to a well or spring.” Most regions of the country have multiple aquifers from which groundwater can be drawn to be provided to the local population.
The EPA has never defined the words “sole” or “principal” in regard to this statutory mandate. The EPA’s website defines sole source aquifers as “supplying at least 50 percent of the drinking water for the service area and having no reasonably available alternative drinking water sources should the aquifer become contaminated.” However, at 40 CFR 149.3(b), the Agency more clearly defines four criteria to be used to designate an aquifer as a sole or principal source aquifer:
- Vulnerability of the aquifer to contamination due to the hydrogeologic characteristics of the aquifer
- The number of persons or proportion of the population using groundwater as a drinking water source
- The likelihood of the aquifer to become contaminated without a program to reduce or prevent contamination
- Reasonably foreseeable contamination resulting in significant cost, taking into account the cost of replacing the drinking water supply and other social, economic and environmental costs resulting from contamination.
- It is part of an area-wide groundwater protection plan under the Clean Water Act, or
- An application for designation as “sole source” has been approved by the EPA.
State Management Plans for Sole Source AquifersThe safe management and protection of sole source aquifers is largely the responsibility of the state in which the aquifer exists. The state is required to prepare and implement an area-wide waste treatment management plan aimed at preventing contamination of the aquifer in question. These State plans require facilities in the sole source aquifer area to incorporate additional controls to protect the aquifer.
Here are some examples these State programs at work:
Edwards Underground Reservoir in San Antonio, TexasThe Edwards Underground Reservoir is designated as a sole source aquifer for the San Antonio, Texas area and is the only sole source aquifer administered in the Federal regulations. 40 CFR 149, Subpart B prohibits any project in the area that might create a significant health hazard and sets rules for the review of any such project.
New York’s Three Sole Source AquifersThe state of New York has petitioned for and received approval for the designation of three sole source aquifers within the state: the Clinton Street-Ballpark Valley Aquifer System around Binghamton, the Long Island Aquifer System, and the Schenectady/Niskayuna Aquifer System in the State capitol area.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) places requirements on hazardous waste generators regarding additional secondary containment for hazardous waste containers and tanks, found at 6 NYCRR 373-1.1(d)(iv).
Understanding New York’s unique hazardous waste requirements with respect to sole source aquifers is crucial to effective waste management in the state.
You can find more details about the sole source aquifer program at https://www.epa.gov/dwssa.
New Clean Water Act & Safe Drinking Water Act Online Training
New for 2017! The Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act Regulations Online Course will help you build a full understanding of the EPA’s major water regulations and how they affect your operations.
Major topics covered in the new online course include:
- NPDES permit and control requirements
- SPCC plan basics and EPA reporting obligations
- US EPA pretreatment standards
- EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program
- Water quality standards for public systems and MCLs
More courses for EHS Managers:
Find a Post
Lion's information is very thorough and accurate. Presenter was very good.
The instructor had knowledge of regulations and understanding of real-world situations. The presentation style was engaging and fostered a positive atmosphere for information sharing.
Safety & Environmental Compliance Officer
Lion courses always set the bar for content, reference, and practical application. Membership and access to the experts is an added bonus.
John Brown, CSP
Director of Safety & Env Affairs
Well designed and thorough program. Excellent summary of requirements with references. Inclusion of regulations in hard copy form, as well as full electronic with state pertinent regulations included is a great bonus!
Excellent job. Made what is very dry material interesting. Thoroughly explained all topics in easy-to-understand terms.
I will never go anywhere, but to Lion Technology.
I had a positive experience utilizing this educational program. It was very informative, convenient, and rewarding from a career perspective.
One of the best trainings I have ever received!
I have over 26 years of environmental compliance experience, and it has been some time since I have attended an environmental regulations workshop. I attended this course as preparation for EHS Audits for my six plants, and it was exactly what I was looking for.
Director of Regulatory Affairs
The instructor was very knowledgeable and provided pertinent information above and beyond the questions that were asked.
Download Our Latest Whitepaper
Some limited quantity reliefs are reserved for specific modes of transport. Use this guide to identify which reliefs you can capitalize on, and which do not apply to your operations.