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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Source Water Protection

What is Groundwater?

Groundwater Foundation provides detailed information on their website. Additional resources that cover water topics are available on the Groundwater resources page.

What is a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA)?

Wellhead protection areas are defined in 327 IAC 8-4.1-1(27) [PDF] as being the surface and subsurface area which contributes water to a community public water supply system production well or wellfield and through which contaminants are likely to move through and reach the well within a specified period of time. This area is delineated by fixed radius or by mathematical (hydrogeological mapping, analytical, semi analytical, or numerical flow/solute transport) methods.

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 groundwater, such as public water wells. Wellhead Protection refers specifically to the protection of groundwater while Source Water Protection encompasses both surface and groundwater sources.

Where can I get more information on Source Water Protection?

Additional resources are provided by IDEM in addition to the Source Water Assessment Program, Wellhead Protection, and Private Well Users and City Water Customers pages.

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 (fact sheet available on the IDEM Fact Sheets page), a schedule for the development of a Phase I WHP plan is required prior to the approval of their site for a new water system (see 327 IAC 8-4-1-13). 327 IAC 8-4.1-8 [PDF] outlines the five components of a Phase I Plan:

  1. establishment of a local planning team,
  2. delineation of the wellhead 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 8-4.1-16 [PDF]. 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 (see 327 IAC 8-4.1-12).

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, a WHP area delineation and a schedule for the development of a WHPP (see 327 IAC 8-4.1-13).

Other Source Water Protection Efforts

Who are Hoosier Water Guardians?

They are communities that have gone above the minimum state standards for Wellhead Protection and Source Water Protection. Several communities across the state have been recognized for their commitment to annual activities that raise awareness and promote groundwater protection. These communities proudly display their Hoosier 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.

Hoosier Water Guardian provides additional information.


For additional assistance, contact the Groundwater Section in the Drinking Water Branch.

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