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Wellhead Protection Program

The Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP) is an organized planning and management effort to protect groundwater used by public water supply systems (PWSS) from known and potential sources of contamination. The 1986 Amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act required states to implement a WHPP, and currently in Michigan, participation is voluntary for PWSS. However, if PWSS do participate in the program, they must follow established State guidelines for the program.

Required elements of a Wellhead Protection Program are:

  • Definition of the roles and responsibilities
  • Delineation of Capture Zones, the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or wellfield which contributes groundwater used by a PWSS. This area, where contaminants could move from to eventually impact wells or wellfields, is designated as a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA)
  • Preparation of a contaminant source inventory
  • Development of contingency plans for water supply emergencies
  • Development of wellhead protection area management plans
  • Proper siting of new wells and/or wellfields
  • Development of public education and participation

There are many reasons for a PWSS to have a WHPP, including: increased protection of public health by protecting drinking water supplies, protection of the financial investment in the PWSS by avoiding costly environmental cleanups; economic impacts and lawsuits; additional support from state and federal agencies when threats to groundwater occur within WHPAs; potential for reducing state and federal requirements for water quality monitoring; clarification of responsibilities and coordination of efforts among local, county and state governmental agendas; and enhanced community pride, self-sufficiency and public trust.

The City of Kalamazoo serves as a public water supply system to over 121,000 persons in an approximate 120 square mile service area and provides service to all or portions of the City of Kalamazoo, City of Portage, Village of Richland, and the Townships of Comstock, Cooper, Kalamazoo, Oshtemo, Pavilion, Richland and Texas. The water system is the second largest groundwater based drinking water supply system in Michigan, pumping an average of 19 million gallons per day (MGD) with a capacity of approximately 58 MGD. There are 18 pumping stations and 19 wellfields, including 102 wells.

The City of Kalamazoo has been involved in the Wellhead Protection Program since 1992, and formed the City of Kalamazoo Wellhead Protection Committee in 1993. The approach in Kalamazoo has been somewhat unique in comparison to most of the over 100 Michigan communities involved in the program, since it is addressing all seven program elements concurrently.

What's New with the City's Wellhead Protection Program?

2007 was another busy year for the City of Kalamazoo's Wellhead Protection Program:

  • The City completed its grant obligations of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Wellhead Protection Grant Program for the period 10-1-06 through 9-30-07. The City's Wellhead Protection Program Grant Proposal Application was approved for $70,000 for the period.
  • The City was also designated a 2007 Groundwater Guardian Community by the Groundwater Foundation. The City has been designated a Groundwater Guardian Community since 1998.
  • We provided numerous groundwater model demonstrations, had free give-a-ways (posters, pencils, keychains, erasers, bookmarks, magnets, etc.), provided Wellhead Protection related presentations in numerous schools, professional meetings, conferences, and workshops, and other public events.
  • The City's Wellhead Protection Committee continued its rotation of 9 groundwater protection cinema ads at the Kalamazoo 10 Theater. Since November 2006 "still" groundwater protection cinema ads have also been running at Kalamazoo's Rave 14 Theater.
  • The City adopted a Wellhead Protection Capture Zone Ordinance with Performance Standards for Groundwater Protection in WHPAs and stormwater quality management.
  • Updates to the WHPP Contingency Plan were made.
  • Our Wellhead Protection Team continues to be a dynamic group with representatives from area businesses, local governments and citizens of the metropolitan area.
  • The Michigan section of the American Water Works Association awarded the 2007 Richard Husby Public Awareness Award to the City of Kalamazoo's Wellhead Protection Team.

What's Ahead?

  • The City of Kalamazoo Wellhead Protection Team is planning for new educational opportunities, and capitalizing on regularly scheduled ones, including give-a-ways of posters, t-shirts, and various "groundwater protection message" bookmarks, magnets, games, pencils, videos and books.
  • The City's Wellhead Protection Team will begin work on designing and placing groundwater protection ads on the exteriors of the City bus fleet.

Link to State of Michigan - Department of Environmental Quality