EPA recognizes local water protection efforts

By on January 2, 2013

By: BRITTANY SMITH Special to the Record Express, Staff Writer



Local officials were recently recognized for their water protection efforts. Pictured here during a recent award ceremony are (left to right) Lynn Langer, PA DEP Regional Director; Shawn Garvin, EPA Regional Administrator, Mid-Atlantic Region; Karen Weibel, Lititz Borough Council President; Lee Spangler, Secretary to WTMA Board; Sue Barry, Lititz Borough Manager; and Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township Manager.

Just before the holidays, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized and honored the Warwick Township Municipal Authority (WTMA) and Lititz Borough for their work protecting local sources of water.

The two entities were presented with the 2012 Regional Source Water Protection Award, an honor that had not seen a Pennsylvania recipient since 2009.

"PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proud to nominate Warwick Township and Lititz Borough for their approach of working with local farmers," DEP South-central regional director Lynn Langer said. "They have set the bar high for protecting drinking water, and hopefully other communities will follow their example."

To give water utilities and community members the information they need to decide how to protect their drinking water sources, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires that the states develop EPA-approved programs to carry out assessments of all source waters in the state. These assessments define land area contributing water to each public water supply system, identify potential sources of contamination, and determine how susceptible the public water supply is to potential pollution. Public utilities and citizens can then use the information through regulatory tools such as ordinances or through non-regulatory tools including best management practices and education outreach.

In previous decades, EPA was concerned with separating pollution from water; now the focus is centered on to keep pollution out of contact with the water from the source. The groundwater topography in the Lititz region provides abundant well water, however it is also easily susceptible to contamination. To deal with the challenge of protecting this sensitive resource, WTMA, Warwick Township and Lititz Borough organized a joint task forced to develop and implement their Wellhead Protection Plans.

The success of this program lies in the numerous partnerships that were formed. "We know that in order to protect our sensitive water supply we need to use many different approaches," said Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township manager.

Creating these sorts of partnerships is nothing new for Warwick or Lititz. Projects laid out in the Regional Comprehensive Plan, collaboration with the Warwick School District and local businesses have already been taking place in this region for decades.

WTMA and Lititz Borough jointly received a Growing Greener Grant from PA DEP to help fund some of the initiatives. One of the major components of the Wellhead Protection Plans was the development of a precision agricultural nutrient management plan, which provided an innovative approach to wellhead protection. So far, the best plans are ones that work alongside the farmer.

Chris Sigmund from TeamAg, Inc. explained that the protection plan delivers two goals to the farmer, improving both the economic and environmental aspects of the farm. The farmer is able to maintain crop yields while saving money on fertilizer costs, and the cost of treating drinking water and removing nitrates is reduced. It is a win-win for both the farmers and the over 20,000 residents that benefit from the water source.

"Drinking water is a finite and precious resource, so we applaud the WTMA and Lititz Borough for taking steps to protect it," said Shawn Garvin, EPA regional administrator.

Through state-of-the-art farming techniques, various watershed improvements, and a group of dedicated volunteers, our drinking water is protected and maintained. Congratulations to Lititz and Warwick for their award, and may you continue to lead the way within the south central region and the state.

Brittany Smith is a local government intern for Warwick Township. More EPA AWARD, page A3