All public water systems that use groundwater as a source are required to develop a Wellhead Protection Plan and obtain an approval for each phase of planning from the Tennessee Division of Water Supply (DWS). For the purposes of wellhead protection, there are four (4) wellhead categories. The categories are determined by the number of connections and the amount of water produced.
Public water systems that purchase all their water from other regulated systems are not required to obtain a Wellhead Protection Plan Approval from the Division of Water Supply.
All public water systems are required to submit a Wellhead Protection Plan in accordance with a Division of Water Supply guidance document. The plan includes:
» Wellhead Area Delineation: a geologic designation of the area to be protected (except for the smallest systems).
» Potential Contaminant Source Inventory: an indication of potential contaminant sources and the wellhead/spring location on a topographic map and a tabulation of the sources
» Wellhead Protection Plan: the previous items plus photographs, hazardous chemical use and storage, spill response notification and contingency planning, and the steps to be taken to protect the area around the wellhead.
Each phase requires an approval from the Division. The smallest wellhead category of public water systems (e.g., trailer parks, schools and churches) submits all materials as one plan and not in phases. In addition, each public water system must furnish copies of the wellhead delineation and wellhead protection plan to the county governing body and the county/regional planning commission.
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The Division reviews each plan and checks for consistency with the Division's guidance document to determine whether design standards have been met. No public notice is required for wellhead protection approval. If all standards, rules and regulations have been met, the plans are approved, and an approval letter is sent to the applicant. Generally, the approval process takes about 60 days. The approval expires in three (3) years.
The applicant has the right to proceed with the plans as approved. The wellhead protection plan due date may be extended with the submittal of a written request and the required information before any action is taken. The wellhead protection plan may be altered for significant increases in average daily production rates (greater than 25%) and significant new potential contamination sources. A change in the plan requires the submittal of an updated plan before any action is taken. The approval is not transferable.
Public water systems have the responsibility to update their wellhead protection plans every three (3) years and to monitor water quality being delivered to their customers. In addition, public water systems must comply with general and category-specific requirements as stated in the Tennessee Regulations for Public Water Systems and Drinking Water Quality.
The Division of Water Supply is responsible for regulating public water systems in order to protect the state's drinking water quality. The development and implementation of wellhead protection plans by public water systems are intended to protect aquifers used as potable water supply sources from contamination due to hazardous and/or toxic substances entering the groundwater.
The Division has the right to inspect wellhead protection plans during sanitary surveys or any other inspections. Penalties for public water systems include having points taken off their sanitary surveys and loss of drinking water monitoring waiver provisions. In addition, any person who violates or fails to comply with the rules, regulations, or any state and federal water quality standards is subject to a civil penalty up to $5,000 per day for each day of violation.
Applicants can obtain information and guidance documents from the Tennessee Division of Water Resources. New applicants who need more than one permit can contact their Environmental Field Office for further assistance.