Potential changes to the region’s drinking water protection plan

Most of us trust our local elected officials with many of the more routine decisions that make our cities hum, without feeling the need to be in attendance. But occasionally, big decisions are made and you want to be there – or at least be aware. On July 29, the City of Dayton will consider important changes to its source water protection program, which is designed to protect the city’s groundwater/drinking water.

The water stored underground in the Buried Valley Aquifer represents the region’s sole and irreplaceable source of drinking water. The Miami Conservancy District’s Aquifer Preservation Subdistrict supports comprehensive protection and management of the region’s water and helps communities develop and implement source water protection plans.

Since 1987, communities that use groundwater for drinking have been required to create plans to protect their water. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) oversees the source water protection requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The City of Dayton was the first community in Ohio to develop and implement a source water protection program. Currently, the City of Dayton supplies drinking water to approximately 400,000 customers.

The program is multi-jurisdictional and partners with the cities of Huber Heights, Riverside, Vandalia, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The source water protection area encompasses more than 6,200 acres.

The City of Dayton has received national attention for its strategy to protect source water while allowing businesses to stay in the source water area. For example, the Risk Point Buy Down Program encourages businesses to permanently reduce chemical inventory through financial incentives. Since its establishment in 1988, more than 25 million pounds of chemicals have been reduced in the source water protection area.

The City of Dayton’s source water protection program has been an exemplary model for communities and is proof that sensible groundwater protection strategies and economic growth can co-exist. Last year, the City of Dayton announced plans to revise the program and asked for comments.

The current proposal:

  • Increases incentive funds for businesses to eliminate hazardous materials.
  • Adds more monitoring wells.
  • Reduces the one-year source water protection area (the area in which contaminants can reach production wells within one year).
  • Allows variances that would increase the inventory of hazardous materials in the source water protection area.
  • Outlines a five-year time-of-travel zone (the area in which contaminants can reach production wells within five years) but doesn’t include any protection regulations.
  • Expands the list of prohibited uses within the source water protection area.
  • Requires more frequent inspections.
  • Increases maximum fines for rule violations.

The Dayton City Commission will meet on July 29th to discuss the proposed changes and consider their adoption. Visit the City of Dayton’s website to better understand what’s at stake and make your voice heard. Email a comment about the proposal to the City of Dayton.

Our abundant source of clean groundwater is one of the region’s greatest assets that sets it apart from other areas of the U.S. Having clean drinking water is paramount to community health and safety.

With water being called everything from “liquid gold” to the “oil of the 21st century,” and because we can’t possibly know the future or foresee all potential contamination sources, protecting source water with as many tools as possible is the wisest choice.

 

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