Wellhead Protection Program
We often take the quality of our drinking water for granted, and may not fully realize how important safe drinking water is. Because everyone in the South Platte NRD relies on groundwater as our only source of drinking water, it's easy to see why it must be protected. By participating in the Wellhead Protection Program, communities in the district can help safeguard their drinking water supplies now and in the years ahead.
Sometimes, especially in the area of drinking water protection, it is better to be proactive than reactive. The Wellhead Protection Program is a voluntary, proactive approach to groundwater protection. The NRD works closely with communities in the district, helping guide them through the steps of the Wellhead Protection Program:
Basic Steps To Wellhead Protection
- Develop a Wellhead Protection Area map for the public wells of a community. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Rural Water Association will draw these maps for a community free of charge. The maps show the specific area around a well or well field that needs to be protected, and the threats that may be a risk to groundwater quality. Maps for communities in the district already participating in the program are listed below.
- Identify Potential Contaminants and Sources. This is otherwise known as a contaminant source inventory, in which potential sources of groundwater contamination are identified, along with possible activities that could pollute the public wells.
- Manage the Protection Area. This is the main step of an effective wellhead protection program. This can include local or county ordinances or zoning, closing abandoned wells through the South Platte NRD Well Abandonment Program, and working with the NRD to place best management practices on agricultural land in the protected area.
- Develop Emergency and Contingency Plans. Plan ahead for possible well failure due to contamination, natural disaster, mechanical problems, etc. The plans should provide for both short and long-term needs.
- Plan ahead for new wells. New wells may eventually be needed as a community grows or as wells age. Decision making in a non-emergency setting will be easier than trying to plan in a crisis situation.
- Educate and involve the public. Public awareness and involvement is vital to make the whole process work.
To see a map of all wellhead protection areas in the district click here.
Maps showing wellhead protection areas in each county of the district.
Maps showing community wellhead protection areas for each city or town in the district.
To learn more about wellhead protection, please contact Ryan Reisdorff, SPNRD Water Resources Programs Specialist.