Wellhead Protection

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986 established requirements for states to develop Wellhead Protection Programs (WHPPs).  A WHPP is a pollution prevention and management program used to protect underground sources of drinking water.  These programs were intended by Congress to be a key part of a national groundwater protection strategy to prevent contamination of groundwaters that are used as public drinking water supplies.  In North Carolina, development of a local Wellhead Protection Plan is not mandatory but, rather, is viewed as a valuable supplement to existing state groundwater protection programs.  North Carolina's WHPP is intended for city and county governments and water supply operators who wish to provide added protection to their local groundwater supplies. The Wellhead Protection Plan, once implemented, reduces (but does not eliminate) the susceptibility of wells to contaminants.

Wellhead protection is simply protection of all or part of the area surrounding a well from which the well's groundwater is drawn.  This is called a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA).  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) defines a Wellhead Protection Area as:  "the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or wellfield, supplying a public water system, through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such water well or wellfields".  The size of the WHPA will vary from site to site depending on a number of factors, including the goals of the State's Program and the geologic and hydrogeologic features of the area.