Forming the Wellhead Protection Planning Team
|Safe drinking water is vital to the health
and prosperity of our communities. The best way to ensure a safe quality
water supply, now and for the future, is to protect the area around wells
that supply our drinking water. Indiana requires all community water suppliers
using ground water to develop and implement a wellhead protection plan jointly
with members of the local community.
This publication provides assistance to operators of public water supply systems in forming the wellhead protection planning team in their community.
Wellhead protection is a community-based process focused on protecting ground water from potential contamination. "Potential" is the important element here, because Indiana’s Wellhead Protection Rule (327 IAC 8-4.1) emphasizes prevention rather than remediation of ground water problems.
You may need a year or more to develop an approvable wellhead protection plan.
One of the first, and most important steps, of wellhead protection planning is forming the wellhead protection planning team. The team guides the development of a wellhead protection plan. An effective wellhead protection plan must include elements of delineation of the wellhead protection area, identification of potential sources of contamination, planning for effective management of the area, contingency planning for water supply contamination, and public education.
The team is a group of interested citizens who will
guide the process of developing the wellhead protection plan. The size
of the team may vary depending on the size of the community.
The team will undertake the wellhead protection planning process outlined below. Some of parts of this process require more time and effort than others.
Everyone in the community relies on safe water in some way; therefore, everyone has a stake in protecting their water supply. The more the community is involved, the more effective your management and education programs will be. Community leaders, concerned citizens, firefighters, farmers, emergency response personnel, teachers, business owners, all should all be involved in the process of planning wellhead protection. The team must have at least one member who is a resident or landowner in the wellhead protection area and will be directly affected by development and implementation of the plan.
To generate awareness of and enthusiasm for the wellhead protection process, some type of community education should precede the announcement of the formation of a local planning team. This educational process might include presentations on wellhead protection given at local service clubs, the local Chamber of Commerce, senior citizen’s groups, and youth organizations. The more publicity, the more helpers you will reach.
Personal contact is the most effective method of
recruiting volunteers from the community to serve on the wellhead protection
planning team. Consider calling or sending personal letters to community
leaders, concerned citizens, educators, firefighters, police, other emergency
response personnel, local government and agency representatives, representatives
of local business and industry, and people who live or work in the wellhead
protection area. A personal visit or phone call to each person whom you
want to have at the meeting is the best way to be sure that many of them
A team needs a leader, a direction, and clearly defined
steps that can be used to measure progress toward the goal. At least three
separate leadership roles are important in leading the group towards its
goal of protecting the water supply. One person can accomplish these,
but you might consider sharing these responsibilities with others.
The first leadership role is that of meeting facilitator.
Someone is needed to manage the meeting so that information is shared
smoothly and with full public participation. This role requires a leader
who can offer some structure to the meetings without seeming to dominate
them. You may know several people capable of this. You may even choose
to do it yourself. Potential resources include a local Purdue Extension
Educator, someone from your local Soil and Water Conservation District,
or a representative of your local Chamber of Commerce. There may also
be other people in the community who are experienced meeting facilitators
and who would be willing to help.
The second leadership role involves overseeing and
coordinating the various tasks involved with wellhead protection planning.
This person needs to be a local champion, someone who can take an idea
and run with it. You may be fortunate enough to find someone else who is
willing to take the time to do this very important task. Remember, though,
that even with a volunteer leader, you, as the water supplier, must be
prepared to share this leadership responsibility, because of your knowledge
of the water supply system.
The third major leadership role is one of administration.
This role requires a person who can keep track of many details, including:
keeping records of meetings, notifying interested and willing volunteers,
reserving rooms for meetings, sending out the public notices, making phone
calls, and providing copies of the agenda. This particular role can be
very time-consuming, and several people may want to rotate in and out of
The Initial Meeting
You can use newspaper articles, television, and radio public service announcements to inform the public. Public notice of the initial meeting to form the wellhead protection team is required to be placed in the newspaper of largest general circulation at least 48 hours before the meeting. Be sure to include the purpose, time, and place of the initial meeting as well as a contact for more information, if it is needed. A sample of a public notice for the local newspaper is shown below. The recommended size of this boxed notice is 3 columns by 3.75 inches.
COME HELP PROTECT OUR DRINKING WATER
THE CITY OF SAFEWATER
THE SAFEWATER PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY
INVITE PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
A WELLHEAD PROTECTION PLAN
Thursday, October 3, 1999 at 6 p.m.
at the Safewater Public Library
To fulfill the requirements of the State of Indiana’s Wellhead Protection Rule, the community public water supply
system is developing a Wellhead Protection Plan. The first step in this process involves the formation of
a volunteer-supported local planning team. This team will make decisions on how best to protect your drinking
water from potential sources of contamination. Interested parties are invited to come learn more about the process
and to support the local planning team.
Address questions to John Smith, of the Safewater Public Water supply (000) 000-0000.
|The initial meeting for the wellhead protection team should be held in a central location that is easy for everyone to find. The room should be well-lit and comfortable. Serving refreshments can help put people at ease.|
|The meeting should have a clearly stated agenda, and people should leave the meeting with the sense that they have accomplished something.|
|Before the meeting, designate someone as an official note-taker. That person should keep records of all public notices, meeting agendas and minutes, and names of those who attend the meetings to document the planning process. Copies of these documents will all need to be included in the final submission package of the wellhead protection plan. Have a sign-in sheet to pass around for everyone to sign.|
|Give all potential volunteers a handout outlining what their participation may involve. You may use the sample handout provided at the end of this publication. Another useful handout would be WQ 24: "Wellhead Protection in Indiana," which provides an overview of wellhead protection planning in Indiana. (See Useful Publications.)|
Some communities have passed out questionnaires to identify special skills of community members that can be drawn upon to help with completing the wellhead protection plan. (A sample questionnaire is included at the end of this publication.) Consider tape recording the meeting so that the tape can be borrowed by those unable to attend the meeting, or used as an additional source for clarification of program minutes.
A. Introduction: Introduce yourself,
and tell everyone that you are glad they came. Briefly explain why the
meeting was called and what you hope to accomplish. (You are going to begin
the process of putting together a wellhead protection program, and you
need everyone’s assistance for this very important process. You are looking
|B. Introductions: If the group is
not too large, have everyone introduce himself or herself and say a few
words about their background and interest in the wellhead protection planning
C. Overview: Provide an overview of the wellhead protection process. You might consider asking a guest speaker to come from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Purdue Extension, a local college or university, another community that is further along toward completing their wellhead protection plan, the Indiana Water and Wastewater Association, or a consultant. (You can find information at the end of this publication.) Limit the presentation to 30-45 minutes, and focus on the broad ideas of wellhead protection. Your goal at this meeting is to attract helpers, not to create wellhead protection experts.
D. Questions: Ask the audience if they have questions. Make sure everyone who comes has the opportunity to participate and be heard.
E. Ask for Help: Ask the participants to consider volunteering to be on the wellhead protection team. The presentation should have briefly described each of the five major steps of wellhead protection planning. Let those willing to participate choose how they can help with the wellhead protection plan. Some people who attend the meeting may not wish to serve on the local planning team in an official way, but they may be willing to assist with specific tasks or to participate in a more limited manner (e.g., editing, compiling the parts of the final report, arranging for a meeting room, making coffee, etc.). Welcome all participation. Encourage people to sign up for more than one task, because many tasks are sequential in nature and interrelated. The public water supply company should have at least one representative who participates in each of the five major tasks.
To get a wider range of participants, you might ask
those in attendance to suggest other individuals who would be an asset
to the planning team. You can contact them personally and invite them to
attend the next planning meeting.
F. Concluding Statements: Review what was accomplished, thank everyone for participating, and set a time and place for the next meeting.
Remember, the least likely person may prove to be
a valuable asset when she remembers that there was an old landfill behind
the school. Or perhaps someone will remember a paint store that burned
down near the wellhead protection area, long before anyone was aware of
the dangers of paint residues to water supplies. These individuals can
be very valuable in completing the contaminant source inventory.
Consider the possibility of forming separate subcommittees
if enough people volunteer. Someone who may be willing to develop and coordinate
an education program involving a ground water fair, presentations at local
schools, or Best Management Practice fliers for industry, agriculture,
and residential areas may not want to help with the contaminant source
inventory. Emergency response people may be willing to participate in contingency
planning, management, or contaminant source inventory, but not in public
The second meeting should focus on developing time lines and assigning specific tasks to be completed. Schedule further meetings of the wellhead protection planning team as they are needed to guide the planning process.
If there are subcommittees, reports from each subcommittee should be made at each meeting. Good communication will speed the overall process and keep the community better informed.
Keep two copies of all meeting agendas, minutes,
and names of those who attend the meeting, one to submit with your wellhead
protection plan and one for your own records.
By forming the wellhead protection planning team
you have begun the first step toward protecting your drinking water supply.
The team can begin working on the remaining steps of a wellhead protection
plan. These steps include: delineation of the wellhead protection area,
inventorying of potential sources of contamination, management of the wellhead
protection area, contingency planning, and public education and outreach.
Wellhead protection planning is not intended to burden citizens with regulations,
but to guide them through the process of collecting and organizing information
that is necessary to protect their drinking water from contamination.
The following Purdue Extension publications provide information about other aspects of the wellhead protection process:
2, "What is Groundwater?"
To obtain these and other useful publications, contact your county Purdue Extension office or 1-888 EXT-INFO.
The USEPA has an excellent publication, "Wellhead
Protection, A Guide for Small Communities," EPA/625/R-93/002 available
free by calling 1-800-490-9198.
Barbara C. Cooper
Jane R. Frankenberger