Summary of Wellhead Protection Tools

Applicability to
Wellhead Protection
Land Use Practice Legal Considerations Administrative
Regulatory: Zoning

Overlay GW Protection
Used to map WHPAs. Provides for identification of sensitive areas for protection. Used in conjunction with other tools that follow. Community identifies WHPAs on practical base/zoning map. Well-accepted method of identifying sensitive areas. May face legal challenges if WHPA boundaries are based solely on arbitrary delineation. Requires staff to develop overlay map. Inherent nature of zoning provides "grandfather" protection to pre-existing uses and structures.
Prohibition of Various Land
Used within mapped WHPAs to prohibit known groundwater contaminants and uses that generate contaminants. Community adopts prohibited uses list within their zoning ordinance. Well-recognized function of zoning. Appropriate technique to protect natural resources from contamination. Requires amendment to zoning ordinance. Requires enforcement by both visual inspection and on-site investigations.
Special Permitting Used to restrict uses within WHPAs that may cause groundwater contamination if left unregulated. Community adopts special permit "thresholds" for various uses and structures within WHPAs. Community grants special permits for "threshold" uses only if groundwater quality will not be compromised. Well-recognized method of segregating land uses within critical resource areas such as WHPAs. Requires case-by-case analysis to ensure equal treatment of applicants. Requires detailed understanding of WHPAs sensitivity by local permit granting authority. Requires enforcement of special permit requirements and on-site investigations.
Large-Lot Zoning Used to reduce impacts of residential development by limiting numbers of units within WHPAs. Community "downzones" to increase minimum acreage needed for residential development. Well-recognized prerogative of local government. Requires rational connection between minimum lot size selected and resource protection goals. Arbitrary large lot zones have been struck down without logical connection to Master Plan or WHPA program. Requires amendment to zoning ordinance.
Transfer of Development Rights Used to transfer development from WHPAs to locations outside WHPAs. Community offers transfer option within zoning ordinance. Community identifies areas where development is to be transferred "from" and "to". Accepted land-use planning tool. Cumbersome administrative requirements. Not well-suited for small communities without significant administrative resources.
Cluster/PUD Design Used to guide residential development outside of WHPAs. Allows for "point source" discharges that are more easily monitored. Community offers cluster/PUD as development option within zoning ordinance. Community identifies areas where cluster/PUD is allowed (i.e., within WHPAs). Well-accepted option for residential land development. Slightly more complicated to administer than traditional "grid" subdivision. Enforcement/inspection requirements are similar to "grid" subdivision.
Growth Controls/Timing Used to time the occurrence of development within WHPAs. Allows communities the opportunity to plan for wellhead delineation and protection. Community imposes growth controls in the form of building caps, subdivision phasing or other limitation tied to planning concerns. Well-accepted option for communities facing development pressures within sensitive resource areas. Growth controls may be challenged if they are imposed without a rational connection to the resource being protected. Generally complicated administrative process. Requires administrative staff to issue permits and enforce growth control ordinances.
Performance Standards Used to regulate development within WHPAs by enforcing pre-determined standards for water quality. Allows for aggressive protection of WHPAs by limiting development within WHPAs to an accepted level. Community identifies WHPAs and establishes "thresholds" for water quality. Adoption of specific WHPAs performance standards requires sound technical support. Performance standards must be enforced on a case-by-case basis. Complex administrative requirements to evaluate impacts of land development within WHPAs.
Regulatory: Subdivision

Drainage Requirements Used to ensure that subdivision road drainage is directed outside of WHPAs. Used to employ advanced engineering designs of subdivision roads within WHPAs. Community adopts stringent subdivision rules and regulations to regulate road drainage/runoff in subdivisions within WHPAs. Well-accepted purpose of subdivision control. Requires moderate level of inspection and enforcement by administrative staff.
Regulatory: Health

Underground Fuel Storage
Used to prohibit underground fuel storage systems (UST) within WHPAs. Used to regulate USTs within WHPAs. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance prohibiting USTs within WHPAs. Community adopts special permit or performance standards for use of USTs within WHPAs. Well-accepted regulatory option for local government. Prohibition of USTs require little administrative support. Regulating USTs require moderate amounts of administrative support for inspection follow-up and enforcement.
Privately Owned Wastewater
Treatment Plants (Small
Sewage Treatment Plants)
Used to prohibit Small Sewage Treatment Plants (SSTP) within WHPAs. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance prohibiting SSTPs within WHPAs. Community adopts special permit or performance standards for use of SSTPs within WHPAs. Well-accepted regulatory option for local government. Prohibition of SSTPs require little administrative support. Regulating SSTPs require moderate amount of administrative support for inspection follow up and enforcement.
Septic Cleaner Ban Used to prohibit the application of certain solvent septic cleaners within WHPAs, a known groundwater contaminant. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance prohibiting the use of septic cleaners containing 1, 1, 1- trichloroethane or other solvent compounds within WHPAs. Well-accepted method of protecting groundwater quality. Difficult regulation to enforce even with sufficient administrative support.
Septic System Upgrades Used to require periodic inspection and upgrading of septic systems. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance requiring inspection and, if necessary, upgrading of septic systems on a time basis (e.g., every 2 years) or upon title/property transfer. Well-accepted purview of government to ensure protection of groundwater. Significant administrative resources required for this option to be successful.
Toxic and Hazardous Material
Handling Regulations
Used to ensure proper handling and disposal of toxic materials/waste. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance requiring registration and inspection of all businesses within WHPAs using toxic/hazardous materials above certain quantities. Well-accepted purview of government to ensure protection of groundwater. Requires administrative support and on-site inspections.
Private Well Protection Used to protect private on-site water supply wells. Community adopts health/zoning ordinance to require permits for new private wells and to ensure appropriate well to septic system setbacks. Also requires pump and water quality testing. Well-accepted purview of government to ensure protection of groundwater. Requires administrative support and review of applications.
Nonregulatory: Land
Transfer and Voluntary

Sale/Donation Land acquired by a community within WHPAs, either by purchase or donation. Provides broad protection to the groundwater supply. As nonregulatory technique, communities generally work in partnership with nonprofit land conservation organizations. There are many legal consequences of accepting land for donation or sale from the private sector, mostly involving liability. There are few administrative requirements involve in accepting donations or sales of land from the private sector. Administrative requirements for maintenance of land accepted or purchased may be substantial, particularly if the community does not have a program for open space maintenance.
Conservation Easements Can be used to limit development within WHPAs. Similar to sales/donations, conservation easements are generally obtained with the assistance of nonprofit land conservation organization. Same as above. Same as above.
Limited Development As the title implies, this technique limits development of portions of a land parcel outside of WHPAs. Land developers work with community as part of a cluster/PUD to develop limited portions of a site and restrict other portions, particularly those within WHPAs. Similar to those noted in cluster/PUD under zoning. Similar to those noted in cluster/PUD under zoning.
Monitoring Used to monitor groundwater quality within WHPAs. Communities establish groundwater monitoring program within WHPAs. Communities require developers within WHPAs to monitor groundwater quality down gradient from their development. Accepted method of ensuring groundwater quality. Requires moderate administrative staffing to ensure routine sampling and response if sampling indicates contamination.
Contingency Plans Used to ensure appropriate response in cases of contaminant release or other emergencies within WHPAs. Community prepares a contingency plan involving wide range of municipal/county officials. None. Requires significant up-front planning to anticipate and be prepared for emergencies.
Hazardous Waste Collection Used to reduce accumulation of hazardous materials within WHPAs and the community at large. Communities, in cooperation with the state, regional planning commission, or other entity, sponsor a "hazardous waste collection day" several times per year. There are several legal issues raised by the collection, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste collection programs are generally sponsored by government agencies, but administered by a private contractor.
Public Education Used to inform community residents of the connection between land use within WHPAs and drinking water quality. Communities can employ a variety of public education techniques ranging from brochures detailing their WHPAs program, to seminars, to involvement in events such as hazardous waste collection days. No outstanding legal considerations. Requires some degree of administrative support for programs, such as brochure mailing, to more intensive support for seminars and hazardous waste collection days.

Regional WHPA Districts Used to protect regional aquifer systems by establishing new legislative districts that often transcend existing corporate boundaries. Requires state legislative action to create a new legislative authority. Well-accepted method of protecting regional groundwater resources. Administrative requirements will vary depending on the goal of the regional district. Mapping of the regional WHPAs requires moderate administrative support, while creating land use controls within the WHPAs will require significant administrative personnel and support.
Land Banking Used to acquire and protect land within WHPAs. Land banks are usually accomplished with a transfer tax established by state government empowering local government to impose a tax on the transfer of land from one party to another. Land banks can be subject to legal challenge as an unjust tax, but have been accepted as a legitimate method of raising revenue for resource protection. Land banks require significant administrative support if they are to function effectively.

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Wellhead Protection Program Guidance Document Contents
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality