The Division of Water Quality has been actively protecting Utah’s ground water resources since the Administrative Rules for Ground Water Quality Protection were promulgated in 1989. Ground water discharge permits are issued to facilities with large waste management units that have the potential to contaminate ground water quality and impair beneficial uses of ground water. However, there are many small potential contaminant sources that cannot directly addressed with discharge permits, such as chemical storage and handling facilities, dry cleaners, furniture strippers, auto repair shops, above ground storage tanks, and septic systems. These smaller sources of potential contamination can be addressed by local governments by forming a partnership with the Division of Water Quality to develop and implement a local ground water protection program.
Form a Local Partnership
Local municipalities can form a partnership with the Division of Water Quality to develop and implement a comprehensive ground water protection program to prevent ground water contamination in their communities. Rural counties and towns have their own unique combination of ground water resources, water supply demands, land use, administrative capabilities, and political and economic constraints. The Division of Water Quality can assist local governments with determining the ground water quality and completing an inventory of threats to ground water quality using the Aquifer Classification process. Local officials can then use the aquifer classification to balance the need for ground water protection with other competing goals and objectives of the community.
To meet the community’s ground water protection goals, a local government can adopt specific regulatory mechanisms including land-use controls, aquifer protection ordinances, and environmental health codes. Each of these regulatory mechanisms has certain advantages and limitations that must be considered by the community. Non-regulatory alternatives are actions that achieve some desirable outcome through incentives such as tax relief, land acquisition, technical assistance, education of businesses and citizens, or other management practices.
How You Can Make a Difference
Below are some ways that local governments and citizens can help protect ground water quality.
- Classify the ground water quality of your community using the aquifer classification process inR317-6-5.
- Develop a management plan by identifying and prioritizing the greatest potential ground water contamination sources in your community.
- Contact local officials or State agencies to see if those sources are being monitored.
- Report any abandoned water wells to your local health officials.
- If your drinking water source is from ground water, find out where the wells and ground water recharge zones are located.
- If you are on a community drinking water system, contact the Utah Division of Drinking Water and ask about the source water protection plan.
- Attend local meetings on land use planning and zoning.
- Let your legislators and local officials know that you support ground water protection, including responsible development and land use planning.
- Support strong federal, State, and local regulations, ordinances, and ground water management programs.
Community Outreach Contact
William (Bill) Damery is the Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Water Quality Ground Water Protection Section. He has 20 years of experience as an Environmental Scientist working with local governments and organizations on ground water protection issues. Bill is available to assist local governmental agencies and committees on ground water protection topics including:
- Controlling non-point sources of ground water contamination,
- Using aquifer classifications as a tool for ground water protection,
- Using ground water recharge maps to assess contamination vulnerability,
- Subdivision requirements for culinary water and sanitary sewer,
- Using septic tank density studies for ground water protection, and
- Ground water protection in watershed management plans.
Bill Damery can be contacted at (801) 536-4354.
The Division of Water Quality also promotes ground water protection by giving demonstrations to elementary and middle schools, speaking engagements at colleges and professional organizations, and educational booths at various water conferences including the Utah League of Cities and Towns, Water Environment Association of Utah, Utah Rural Water Association, and Utah Water Users. Please contact Bill Damery at the contact provided above for more information about ground water protection education opportunities.
Ground Water Quality Protection Strategy for the State of Utah
In 1986, the Utah Department of Health completed the "Ground Water Quality Protection Strategy for the State of Utah" which helped define the current ground water management protection program. Partially as a result of public input from this document the ground water program to date still emphasizes the prevention of ground water pollution. Also contained in this document are the facts of about Utah’s ground water, a description of governmental programs that affect ground water, and a discussion on the potential sources of ground water pollution. To view this document please go to the attached PDF link.