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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

IDEM > Your Environment > Source Water Protection - Drinking Water > Source Water FAQs Source Water FAQs

General Questions about Source Water Protection

What is Ground Water?

For a detailed answer, visit the Ground Water Foundation for more information.

What is a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA)?

A wellhead is the physical structure or device through which ground water flows or is pumped. The surface and subsurface area immediately surrounding a pumping well is defined in 327 IAC 8-4.1-1(27) as the wellhead protection area. Contaminants poured on the ground in a wellhead protection area have a good chance of seeping into the soils and the subsurface materials where the ground water that is likely to flow towards the public well is located. Insuring that nothing is spilled, leaked, injected, or runs off into this area is vital to protecting the water supply.

What's the difference between Source Water Protection and Wellhead Protection?

Preventing drinking water contamination at the source makes sense whether it is derived from surface waters, lakes, rivers and streams or from ground water, such as public water wells. Wellhead protection refers specifically to the protection of ground water while source water protection encompasses both surface and ground water sources.

Where can I get more information on Source Water Protection?

Check out our web links for additional information.

Specific Questions about IDEM's Source Water Protection Programs

What is a Phase I Wellhead Protection (WHP) Plan?

When a community public water supply system adds a new well to their public water system, a Phase I WHP plan is required prior to the approval of their site for a new water system. 327 IAC 8-4.1-8 outlines the five components of a Phase I Plan: (1) establishment of a local planning team, (2) delineation of the protection area, (3) an inventory and map of potential sources of contamination, (4) development of one or more management strategies and (5) a contingency plan.

What is a Phase II WHP Plan?

Phase II is the implementation phase of the Wellhead Protection Planning Process. The first Phase II WHP plan is due 5, 7 or 10 years (depending upon the size of the community) after the approval of the Phase I WHP plan per 327 IAC 8-4.1-15. Once a Phase II WHP plan is approved, regular updates are required every 5 years for the life of the water supply.

When a community adds a new well to their public water system when must a revised Wellhead Protection Plan (WHPP) be submitted?

It depends on where the new well is located.

If the new well is located in a separate well field, away from all the other wells, it will need a new Phase I Wellhead Protection Plan (WHPP). Ideally that plan should be submitted prior to operation of the new well, but may be submitted any time within the first year of operation.

If the new well is located within an existing well field and the annual pumping rates are relatively unchanged, then no special revision is needed until the next scheduled update to the WHPP for that wellfield (in their Phase II WHPP). The same is true if the new well is located in the same wellfield but off to one side, even if it significantly increases the pumping capacity of that wellfield. A revised WHPP needs to be submitted at the time of their scheduled Phase II submittal or subsequent submittals.

Can a community get a permit for a new public water supply well without an approved WHPP?

Yes. IDEM issues permits for the construction of a new well, not the operation of the well, thus a permit may be issued without an approved WHPP; however, a new well site approval is dependent upon the approval of both a construction permit and a WHPP.

Other Source Water Protection Efforts

What is a Ground Water Guardian Community?

Several communities across the state have been recognized by the Ground Water Foundation as having committed to annual activities that raise awareness and promote ground water protection. These communities proudly display their Ground Water Guardian symbol on signs posted within their city limits and share their successes and lessons learned with thousands of other communities across the country. For more information, visit the Ground Water Guardian Program.