The 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as presented in section 1428 of the Act, specify the basic elements to be addressed in state Wellhead Protection (WHP) plans, and includes the following:

  1. Define institutional roles;
  2. Establish criteria to delineate Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPAs);
  3. Identify potential contaminant sources;
  4. Develop management approaches;
  5. Formulate contingency plans;
  6. Address siting new wells;
  7. Invite public participation.


The State of Wyoming's development of a plan to meet the requirements of the SDWA Amendments is outlined below and described in greater detail in following sections of this document. In recognition of the importance and effectiveness of the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems (WARWS) in assisting communities and PWSs with the development of local WHP plans, this document mirrors the five steps in the WARWS WHP plan and establishes minimum standards for approval (by WDEQ/WQD) of local (e.g. community or PWS) WHP plans:

This remainder of this section (Section I) of the state's plan contains a discussion of the major institutional roles and responsibilities of the many local, state and federal agencies and organizations that, to greater or lesser degrees, are typically involved with the development, implementation and funding of local WHP plans.

The following sections of this document establish the processes and criteria that define complete and acceptable (by WDEQ/WQD) Wellhead Protection (WHP) plans for 'Community' Public Water Systems (PWSs). In recognition of the unique circumstances and nature of Wyoming's 'Non-community' PWSs, these types of systems may complete and submit a condensed model' WHP plan (Appendix F: "State of Wyoming Groundwater Contamination Susceptibility Assessment Survey Form") together with a map (minimum 1:24,000 scale) illustrating the WHPA(s) (delineated using Arbitrary (Zone 1) and Calculated Fixed-Radius Methods (Zones 2 and 3)) for consideration of approval. 'Non-community' PWSs must follow the same requirements as 'Community' PWSs for updating WHP plans (see Section VIII).


Effective Wellhead Protection (WHP) planning involves coordination of federal, state, and local efforts and funding sources. Information and technical support often necessary to complete local WHP plans is available from many sources. The type of information and support will vary with the organization. Some organizations specialize in developing and providing information and educational materials used to promote groundwater protection; other agencies may be able to provide technical assistance and information concerning hydrogeology (for WHPA delineations), Public Water System (PWS) well construction, local and regional water quality, contaminant sources, health effects, Best Management Practices (BMPs) or other information pertinent to WHP development.

The following agencies and organizations are potential sources of information and technical assistance available to communities and PWSs developing and implementing WHP plans:



USDA Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS):

US Geological Survey (USGS):

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service (USFS):


The major role of WDEQ/WQD in implementing and administering the state's WHP plan is to assist local development of complete, technically adequate and acceptable WHP plans by providing technical assistance and guidance on techniques and strategies available to meet the minimum acceptance criteria set forth in the state's plan. WQD also will perform completeness and technical adequacy reviews of local WHP plans submitted for acceptance, and provide recommendations and suggestions on ways to achieve acceptable plans. WQD is responsible for final approval or concurrence of local WHP plans; notice of acceptance of local WHP plans will be provided to the community and to EPA in order to facilitate the participation of local PWSs in SDWA incentive programs such as monitoring waivers.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality/Water Quality Division (WDEQ/WQD) will assist in:


Information Transfer:

Technology Transfer and Education:

In addition, WQD will:

Wyoming Water Development Commission (WWDC):

Wyoming State Engineer's Office (SEO):

Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA):

Wyoming Department of Health:

University of Wyoming (UW):

Wyoming Water Resources Center (WWRC):

Geological Survey of Wyoming:

Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC):

Wyoming Emergency Management Agency (WEMA):


Conservation Districts:

County Emergency Management Coordinators (CEMC):

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC):

Cooperative Extension Service Offices:

Information relating to water supply systems, planning and local authorities:


Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems (WARWS):

Midwest Assistance Program (MAP):

Outside Consultants:

Numerous professional firms within Wyoming have the professional credentials, qualifications and experience to provide assistance and guidance in the development of WHP plans. Dependent upon the particular need, experts are available to complete entire plans, portions thereof, or simply to coordinate and facilitate plan development as needed. Many consultants working within the environmental arena in Wyoming also have strong working knowledge of state and federal environmental programs and regulations, as well as both personal and professional contacts at all levels of government.

Local Governments (Counties and Municipalities):

County and municipal government involvement in developing and implementing WHP plans is critical to the ultimate success of any local WHP plan. County government participation, coordination and support is necessary when municipal Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPAs) extend into areas under jurisdiction of county governments. Similarly, municipal and county government participation, coordination and support is necessary when WHPAs for 'Non-community' wells such as those for parks, schools, etc. lie within, or extend into their respective jurisdictional areas.

County officials, agencies or organizations which should be involved in developing and implementing WHP plans include:

Municipal officials, agencies or organizations which should be involved include:


The main characteristic of successful local WHP Plans is recognition of the importance of public participation in both the development and implementation of the plans. Organizing a Wellhead Protection Management Committee (WHPMC) from local water customers and parties potentially affected by WHP plan implementation is one good approach to involve the general public. The local WHP Management Committee should represent the various interests of the community, united under the common goal of protecting drinking water supplies. The most effective way for the WHP Management Committee to accomplish this objective is to implement the WHP plan for each well, well field, spring, and tunnel comprising the drinking water sources for the PWS. One suggested approach for development of the local WHP plan is to:

As depicted on Figure I-2, PWS personnel, local governmental representatives, health department personnel, community residents, public interest groups, potentially affected parties and commercial and industrial representatives should comprise the WHP management committee for the public drinking water supply. Because generation of a local WHP plan can be completed as a "do-it-yourself" process, the use of technical and legal consultants is optional and on an as-needed basis.


    WHEREAS, the (City Council/County Commission) of (City/Town) deems 
it appropriate and in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare 
of the citizens to implement plans to prevent contamination of the groundwater 
supplies that provide potable water to the citizens
of _________________ ;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE (City Council/County Commission):
The (City Council/County Commission) recognizes that some residents 
of (City/Town) rely mainly on groundwater for a safe drinking water 
supply and that certain land uses can contaminate aquifers.  It is the intent 
to accomplish aquifer protection, as much as possible, by developing and 
implementing a Wellhead Protection (WHP) Plan in accordance with Wyoming's 
Wellhead Protection (WHP) Plan.  The Plan shall be as described within the 
document prepared by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality entitled
"Wyoming's Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program; Guidance Document", and shall 
meet or exceed the requirements of the Wyoming Wellhead Protection (WHP) Plan.
         ADOPTED this _______________ Day of __________________, 199_.
                                                               , Chairman


A listing of the members of the Wellhead Protection Management Committee, including committee meeting schedules, resolutions, and descriptions of efforts to include public participation should be included in the Wellhead Protection (WHP) plan submitted to WDEQ/WQD.

Idealized WHP Management Committee Membership and Responsibilities

WHP planning is not static, but rather is a dynamic process requiring a multi-disciplinary team committed to protecting the groundwater source which supplies its drinking water. Because development of WHP plans is often a lengthy process and frequently requires management committee members to assume extra duty, exceptional candidates for participation are those individuals capable of committing to what may be an extended and demanding process. The following entities have been identified as important, if not vital, members of the WHP Management Committee responsible for developing and implementing the WHP plan. Suggested roles for the various participants are presented below, for illustrative purposes only.

City, County or Tribal Council/Commission: The Council supports and sponsors the establishment of the WHP Management Committee for the purpose of assessing the need for protection of the groundwater source, evaluating the effectiveness of monitoring and protection measures, and developing recommended approaches to providing adequate protection of drinking water supplies. The WHP Management Committee is appointed by the Council from local governmental agencies, the public water supplier, citizens of the community, and other individuals.

In the development of WHP plan objectives and management approaches, the Council actively solicits public involvement to ensure not only effective protection of drinking water sources, but also to ensure that the need to protect is appropriately balanced with local socio-economic and environmental considerations to achieve balance with the need for maintaining the overall health and prosperity of the community. Advice from technical and legal consultants should also be solicited while developing WHP objectives, approaches, and implementation strategies.

The Council ultimately is responsible for establishing and enacting management approaches to achieve the objectives set forth by the WHP Management Committee. The Council adopts the WHP plan for the PWS and periodically reviews, updates and amends the plan, as necessary. These local governmental agencies are responsible for development and implementation of additional management approaches adopted by the WHP Management Committee, monitoring of activities within the recharge area of the groundwater source, and enforcement of local rules and regulations designed to protect drinking water sources.

Public Water System (PWS) Operator: The PWS operator facilitates and coordinates management committee meetings for development and completion of the elements within the WHP plan. Regardless of whether the PWS supplies an industrial facility, community, mobile home park, or other type of facility, the owner is involved in completion of the Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) delineation and Source Inventory elements, and is instrumental in the development of management approaches to be recommended to the City Council or County Commission. The operator assists and coordinates development of the Contingency Plan for emergency response measures and siting new wells, maintaining communication and coordination channels with appropriate local, state and federal agencies.

Private, Commercial and Industrial Interest Representatives: Because much, if not all, of the area within and surrounding a community's drinking water supply may be privately held, representatives of potentially affected private landowners and commercial/industrial interests should be invited and encouraged to serve on the WHP management committee. Generally, success of WHP plans depends upon the effectiveness of implementing management approaches to protect the drinking water supply from becoming contaminated. Adoption of management approaches, especially those which are, or appear to be, restrictive, prohibitive, or otherwise regulatory in nature will be more difficult if affected parties are left out of the planning process. These representatives are often an invaluable resource for supporting and sponsoring public outreach and education programs concerning groundwater and wellhead protection.

Residential Interest Representatives: Citizens of the community, water customers, and homeowners have a vested interest in protecting their public water supply and are an invaluable resource for assistance in completing the elements of WHP plans. Quite often, the time, talent, interest and commitment necessary to develop and complete a successful plan can be found within community volunteers. Their interest in participation on the management committee and related work groups should be strongly encouraged and supported.

Technical, Legal and Regulatory Advisors: Because development and implementation of WHP plans requires a knowledge and understanding of many varied disciplines and practices, WHP management committees should solicit participation from scientists, engineers, planners, technicians, attorneys and other experts within the community whenever possible. Quite often, local individuals have the best knowledge and understanding of local conditions. In the absence of local talent needed to complete specific elements of the WHP plan, committees must rely upon the external resources available to them through the agencies, organizations and private firms mentioned earlier.

Inevitably, the best WHP plans are those developed entirely by those with a vested interest in its success, for they best understand the activities which can affect and protect their water supplies.

The success of the WHP plan typically will depend upon the level of interest and support from water customers. The best way to gain public support and acceptance for an individual WHP plan is through their participation in the development of the WHP plan, including the design of management strategies and approaches geared toward protecting drinking water supplies from contamination. These management strategies and approaches are described in greater detail in Section IV, but may include any of the following:


Notifying the public and including them in WHP plan activities should be an integral part of the WHP plan development process. It is particularly important to educate and inform those who reside or own property or businesses within the WHPA. Owners and operators of potential and existing sources of contamination within the WHPA should be notified when WHP plan development is begun, as well as when the WHP plan is approved or modified. At a minimum, this notification should consist of publication of a map and essential plan elements in a highly visible section of the local newspaper. Specific information that should be provided to the public includes the type and location of each activity or contaminant source within the WHPA and the potential risks, if any, to the drinking water supply.

According to EPA (1990), the public typically is unaware of basic groundwater concepts, and this lack of knowledge often frustrates communication efforts. The public should be educated about the public drinking water supply system so that they can become familiar with the basic concepts and terminology relating to wellhead protection. The following fundamentals should be covered in any public education program:

There are a number of ways to educate and inform the public concerning groundwater supply and groundwater protection. Some are more costly than others and some depend upon the extent of the community's communication resources. The following are examples of common approaches to educating and informing the public of issues relating to groundwater management and protection.

Groundwater Models: One of the most effective educational approaches toward understanding groundwater movement and contaminant migration is through the use of physical groundwater models; suppliers, including 1995 prices are listed in Appendix A.

Informational videotapes: WDEQ can provide copies of groundwater and wellhead protection videotapes based upon real-world experiences and applications for use at public meetings. These include:

"The Power to Protect" (EPA)

"Wellhead Protection Public Service Announcement" (Univ. of Wisconsin; Stevens Point)

"Wellhead Protection - DeSmet School, DeSmet, MT"

"North Dakota Groundwater Public Service Announcement"

Informational brochures to customers: This could be a separate mailing to customers, or could be included with their monthly billing statement. An example informational brochure is shown in Figure I-3. This example is particularly useful in its summarizing Torrington's WHP plan including: what is Wellhead Protection and why is it necessary; areas comprising the WHPAs; objectives of the plan; what is being done to protect local drinking water supplies from contamination, and; what citizens can do to help. The second example is shown in Figure I-4, and is a schematic of the Elk Mountain water supply system. It is useful in describing to the public how drinking water is collected and delivered to the water customer, as well as depicting vulnerabilities of the supply system. (Also see Appendix B - 'National Groundwater Protection Organizations' for a listing of organizations that provide informational and educational brochures).

Newsletters to customers: Utilities often send brief newsletters to their customers along with their monthly billing statements with different aspects of the water supply system featured. The frequency of distribution can vary, depending upon the system's resources, from monthly to even yearly.

Newspaper articles: Newspaper articles are an inexpensive and efficient way to communicate the basic elements of the water supply system and threats to water quality. In larger communities, system staff should approach the science editors of local and regional papers. The contact may be less formal in smaller communities, where local and regional papers may rely upon general reporters and donated features.

Television and radio media: Television and radio can also be used to educate the public in an inexpensive and efficient way. Contacts made with television and radio personnel may also be useful during a contamination incident. If funding permits, Public Service Announcements (PSA) could be prepared.


"The Torrington Wellhead Protection Program was developed to address the increasing nitrate levels in the ground water aquifer supplying the Town of Torrington."

What is Wellhead Protection? "Wellhead protection is by definition, protection of the area surrounding a well. So, first of all, we should explain what a "wellhead protection area (WHPA) is. A (WHPA) is defined as the surface and subsurface area surrounding a well or wellfield that supplies a public water system through which contaminants are likely to pass and eventually reach the water well or wellfield."

What are the objective of Torrington's WHPP?

What areas are included in Torrington's Wellhead Protection Program? The preliminary delineated boundaries are illustrated on the cover of this brochure. The area shown is the primary ground water recharge area for the Torrington municipal drinking water wells.

What are the potential sources of contamination?
Groundwater resources are vulnerable to contamination from surface and subsurface activities I the recharge area. Contamination can come from a number of sources, including:

Where does ground water nitrate contamination come from? Ground water nitrate contamination can come from several sources to include commercial fertilizers and animal waste used for supplemental nutrients on farmland, lawns and gardens, septic tank type disposal systems, leaking sewer mains, animal confinement areas, and storage and loading facilities.

Why should we be concerned about nitrates? The toxicology of nitrate has been extensively studied, (Ridder and Oehme, 1974; Shirley, 1975). Nitrate itself is essentially non-toxic to humans but it can be reduced to nitrate in the gastrointestinal tract of human infants and by the microflora of the human mouth. The nitrite presents a direct toxic hazard, and has also been suspected for many years of forming carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds ( Swan, 1975). The EPA has determined that nitrate concentrations in excess of 10 ppm (parts per million) could be harmful to both infants and elderly individuals. The EPA has established 10 ppm as the maximum contaminant level (MCL). All public water systems are required bylaw to comply with this MCL.

What is being done? The following programs have been implemented or will be in the near future:

Soil Monitoring: Sample and analyze cropland and turf areas within Zone I (WHPA) to determine the amount of nitrogen remaining in the soil at end of the growing season. This data is used to determine fertilizer application rates and recommendations for the next season.
Responsible Party: Town of Torrington

Irrigation, Nutrient and Conservation Management Practices: Reduce the agriculture contribution of nitrate contamination to groundwater through accelerated technical and financial assistance with the installation of on-farm land management practices.
Responsible Party: USDA Soil Conservation Service

Non-Point Source Ground Water Sampling Program:
Samples are being collected monthly for a period of three years from the 79 points, illustrated on the cover of this brochure. The program will establish nitrate trends and provide a method for evaluating the effectiveness of management practices.
Responsible Parties: Town of Torrington, WDEQ & U.S. EPA

Future Nitrate Related Studies:

Evaluate the existing sanitary sewer collection and trunk line system for poorly constructed, broken and leaking pipes. Develop costs and a long term plan for replacement. A recent television survey indicated numerous problems in the system. Leaking sewer pipes can contribute to nitrate contamination.

Evaluate sewer system alternatives in rural areas within the Wellhead Protection Area, i.e., community system, improved septic tank/drainfield systems, wetlands, etc..

Ag and Turf Demonstration Trials:
Plans are being developed to implement a research/demonstration project at the UW Research Station near Torrington. Principal investigators will be the University of Wyoming. The primary objectives are as follows:

Program Enforcement: Participation in the program is strictly on a voluntary basis. Program success is directly related to urban and rural involvement.

What can we do as individual citizens to help? In the near future, weekly news articles will be published in the Torrington Telegram. The articles will provide information which individuals can use to help minimize pollution. Public information meetings will be held during late fall and winter.

Remember, the Torrington community has the opportunity to solve the nitrate problem at the local level without Federal intervention. To help, get involved!

Presentations to civic groups: Civic groups in residential neighborhoods generally welcome presentations by utility personnel and the groups are an excellent means of establishing contact with local civic leaders, whose support may be valuable following a contamination incident.

School programs: Early education can provide a lifetime awareness of the value of a safe drinking water supply. An effort can be made to include groundwater and the water supply system as topics on local school civics or science curricula. WDEQ/WQD can provide examples of groundwater protection curricula which have been developed for use in all grade levels.

Signs in recreation areas: Because the area around a drinking water source may not be known to area residents or others traveling through the community, signs placed at strategic locations (highways, hiking trail heads, etc.) can be used effectively to educate the resident and transient population in an inexpensive manner. WDEQ is exploring the possibility of developing and distributing a 'Wellhead Protection Area' sign that can be used consistently across the state to inform pedestrians and motorists when they are entering and exiting a community WHPA.

Public Review

WDEQ\WQD suggests that each PWS retain a current copy of each WHP plan on its premises. The local WHP plan should be made available to the public upon request. In order to remain responsive to public perception of the WHP plan, the following records should be maintained by the PWS: logs of random inspections of the WHP Plan by the public and, logs of comments made by the public.


Some federal and state agencies, local planning agencies and associations may have funds available for development and/or implementation of WHP plans. Since funding sources are often unpredictable and may change, agencies and organizations should be individually contacted to determine funding availability. State agencies which have provided funding for the development of local WHP Plans include:


There is a wealth of published information, guidance and technical assistance documents available to the public pertaining to all aspects of WHP planning. Appendix B contains a list of resource groups that can provide materials for use by individuals, communities, public water suppliers and anyone interested in learning more about protecting groundwater. Appendix C contains a listing of WHP technical assistance and guidance documents and videotapes that may be ordered by using the forms provided in Appendix C. Contact information, including telephone numbers and Internet Web Site addresses are also provided in Appendix C.

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Wellhead Protection Program Guidance Document Contents
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality