Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program
Project Review - Areas of Concern
Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program Resources
If an SSA designation is approved, proposed federal financially-assisted projects which have the potential to contaminate the aquifer are subject to EPA review. Proposed projects that are funded entirely by state, local, or private concerns are not subject to EPA review. Examples of federally funded projects which have been reviewed by EPA under the SSA Protection Program include; highway improvements and new road construction, public water supply wells and transmission lines, wastewater treatment facilities, construction projects that involve disposal of storm water, agricultural projects that involve management of animal waste, and projects funded through Community Development Block Grants.
Most projects referred to EPA for review meet all federal, state, and local ground water protection standards and are approved without any additional conditions being imposed. Occasionally, site or project-specific concerns for ground water quality protection lead to specific recommendations or additional pollution prevention requirements as a condition of funding. In rare cases, federal funding has been denied when the applicant has been either unwilling or unable to modify the project.
Whenever feasible, EPA coordinates the review of proposed projects with other offices within EPA and with various federal, state, or local agencies that have a responsibility for ground water quality protection. Relevant information from these sources is given full consideration in the sole source aquifer review process and helps EPA to understand local hydrogeologic conditions and specific project design concerns. Project review coordination also helps ensure that SSA protection measures support or enhance existing ground water protection efforts, rather than duplicate them.
The following are common issues of concern which may have the potential to impact ground water quality:
1. Stormwater Treatment and Disposal Practices - All federally funded projects that may generate, increase, collect, or dispose of storm or surface water run off from impervious surfaces, e.g., parking lots, roadways, roof tops, must use Best Management Practices (BMPs) to design all stormwater treatment and disposal systems. In addition, the use of shallow injection wells, i.e., dry wells, french drains, sumps, and drainfields, must be avoided whenever possible.
2. Shallow Injection Wells - In those cases where stormwater treatment and disposal systems must utilize a shallow injection well, the project proponent must (1) notify and register the shallow injection well with the appropriate State Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, (2) ensure that the shallow injection well(s) does not dispose any fluids that do not meet the State's Ground Water Quality Standards, and (3) pay any applicable fees for registering the shallow injection wells. For more information regarding the UIC Program.
3. Sanitary Waste - Whenever feasible, a project should be connected to the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), i.e., the sewage treatment plant. In cases where connections to a POTW cannot be made, onsite sewage disposal systems can be utilized if (1) the appropriate State or local health department or district is notified and a permit is issued, and if applicable (2) the appropriate State UIC Program should also be notified if the onsite sewage system is designed to treat and dispose of equal to or more than 2000 gallons per day.
In addition, in facilities that do not have connections to a POTW, garage bay and other floor/shop drains should not be connected to an onsite sewage system. Best Management Practices should be utilized to provide an alternative to installing garage bay and other drains, e.g., sloped garage bay and holding tanks. For more information on protection measures for onsite sanitary waste treatment and disposal, please contact your State or local health department.
4. Potable Water - Whenever feasible, connections to a community water supply should be made. In cases where connections to a community water system cannot be made, a private well may be used to supply potable water if (1) the appropriate State or local health department or district is notified, (2) the water should be tested for contaminants, such as bacteria and nitrate, and (3) all applicable pollution prevention techniques should be used to protect the private well from contamination. For more information on protection measures for users of private wells, please contact your State or local health department or the Home *A* Syst Program in your State
5. Underground Storage Tanks - All underground storage tanks (UST) systems must meet at a minimum the performance standards as specified in Volume 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 280, Subpart B of the Federal UST Regulations. These performance standards include tank and pipe design and construction, spill, and overfill equipment operating specifications, and proper installation procedures which must be followed. In addition, all UST systems must at a minimum (1) register the tank(s) with EPA or the appropriate State UST Program by completing the Notification for Underground Storage Tanks Form, (2) be in accordance with Subpart D of the Federal UST Regulations where leak detection must be performed once petroleum products are added to the tanks, (3) obtain an approved financial responsibility mechanism, in accordance with Subpart H of the Federal UST regulations, prior to putting the UST system into service. This mechanism will ensure that clean-up funds will be made available if/when needed to mitigate ground and drinking water or soil contamination. More information regarding the protection requirements for USTs.
6. Community Water System Improvement - For community water systems that are requesting federal financial assistance for new improved water systems, the community should be participating in the appropriate State's Wellhead/Source Water Protection Programs. (Please note: for the State of Idaho, this is a requirement as a condition for federal funding.) Since all community water systems will be receiving a completed Source Water Assessment by the State, the community water system should be incorporating the use of relevant non-regulatory and /or regulatory approaches to protect their drinking water supply. More information on State's Wellhead/Source Water Protection Programs.