Source Water Protection is everyone’s job

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On Thursday, June 23, Lehigh County Authority and the City of Allentown hosted a joint presentation to explain our respective
plans to protect our drinking water supplies from contamination. The presentation summed up an exhaustive study of where our water comes from and how it can be affected by any number of factors, including runoff from development and residential areas; industrial and agricultural byproducts such as chemicals or fertilizers; and runoff from roads.

The study area included the City of Allentown, the townships of Weisenberg, Lowhill, Upper Macungie, Lower Macungie, Salisbury, and South Whitehall, and the boroughs of Alburtis and Macungie in Lehigh County, and Longswamp Township in Berks County.

Utilizing results from the study, LCA and the City of Allentown are developing a plan to protect our sources of drinking water. This has numerous benefits, not the least of which are the protection of public health, promotion of sound land-use planning, and preservation of the environment. Some of the benefits are also financial – for example, the reduced cost of water treatment. A recent EPA study estimates that, on average, every $1 spent on source protection saves $27 on water treatment.

The plan calls for dividing the area into three zones. The most protective zone, Zone I, is a circle around each well with a radius ranging from 100 to 400 feet (DEP, 2005). The second most protective zone, Zone II, represents the 10-year time of travel – the area from which groundwater has a high probability of reaching the well in fewer than ten years. The Zone III protection area is much more extensive, as it encompasses nearly 50,000 acres and includes multiple municipalities in Lehigh and Berks counties.

Some of the steps Allentown has taken as part of the plan’s implementation include:

  • A street sweeping and litter pick-up campaign.
  • The removal of more than 9,000 tons of debris and leaves from city streets.
  • The removal of more than 3,000 cubic feet of debris from storm water inlets and 174 cubic yards of debris and sediment from safety grates and surrounding areas.
  • Implementation of S.W.E.E.P. (Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program). So far, more than 7,000 violation tickets have been issued to enforce the city’s litter and trash ordinances.
  • The completion of a buffer zone project near Cedar Beach Park.

Here at LCA, we’ve been busy, too. Here are just a few of our related projects:

  • An ongoing leadership role in coordinating HydroMania events for the Lehigh Valley.
  • Participating in Emmaus Watershed Day.
  • Coordinating and sponsoring a household hazardous waste drop-off program.
  • Initiating a rain barrel program.
  • Offering “green ideas” on this blog and our Facebook page.
  • Educating homeowners and businesses about their important role in source water protection.

It’s important that all of us understand the impact we have on the water we drink. Please take some time to learn more about our work to keep our water supplies clean, and what you can do to help:

 

Contact Us for more info or to request an appointment to review the full report (too large to post online!)

Leave a comment below with your questions, comments or discussio-starters!