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Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored two Lancaster County, Pa. communities for protecting sources of drinking water used by more than 20,000 people. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin presented the agency’s 2012 regional Source Water Protection Award to the Warwick Township Municipal Authority and the Borough of Lititz at a ceremony at the Warwick Municipal Office.
“Protecting the sources of our drinking water benefits public health, our environment, and our economic well-being as well as our quality of life,” said Garvin. “Warwick and Lititz have shown the way for more than a decade of working with farmers and others in taking responsible steps protecting drinking water supplies.”
The Source Water Protection Award recognizes organizations and communities that take extraordinary steps to protect drinking water sources in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.
Warwick and Lititz were recognized for their joint Wellhead Protection Program to protect groundwater sources from contamination. The communities were nominated for the award by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“DEP is proud to nominate Warwick Township and Lititz Borough for their approach of working with local farmers,” DEP South-central Regional Director Lynn Langer said. “They have set the bar high for protecting drinking water, and hopefully other communities will follow their example.”
“We know that in order to protect our sensitive water supply we need to use many different approaches,” said Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township Manager.
Sue Barry, Lititz Borough Manager explained, “We appreciate the willingness of our partners in the community and state, local and county governments who have helped to make this program successful.”
The communities created a steering committee of local stakeholders to guide their steps, supported state-of-the-art farming techniques and plans, sponsored public education activities, completed watershed improvement projects, and developed protective land use planning strategies and emergency water supply plans.
These steps are designed to deal with high levels of nutrient pollution in the heavily-agricultural area. More than 30 percent of the public water systems in Lancaster County have nitrate removal systems installed to assure that water provided to customers meets health-based standards.
The communities reported a steady decline in raw water nitrate concentrations for their drinking water sources, reducing treatment requirements and expenses.
The upgrade of the Lititz Sewer Authority’s wastewater treatment plant is helping to protect local waters and the Chesapeake Bay by significantly reducing nitrogen and phosphorus discharges to Lititz Run. The plant’s technology is also producing dried biosolids that are being used by local farmers as a slow release fertilizer as part of their nutrient management program.
Warwick and Lititz are the first Source Water Protection Award winners in Pennsylvania since 2009.
The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires that states develop EPA-approved programs to assess all drinking waters sources in the state. These assessments define land areas contributing water to each public water supply system, identify potential sources of contamination, and determine how susceptible the water supply is to pollution. Utilities and citizens can then use the information to create protection programs.
For more information on source water protection, visit: http://www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/drinkingwater/swp/