Wellhead protection programs serve to protect the underground soil and bedrock aquifers that supply public drinking water. By definition, the wellhead is the physical structure at the land surface from which the groundwater is drawn from the subsurface aquifer. A Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) as defined by Federal law is "the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or wellfield, through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such well or well field."
The wellhead protection planning process involves formulating and implementing a set of actions and management practices to protect the water supply from potential sources of contamination. A proactive approach to WHPA planning helps to minimize and to potentially prevent contamination of aquifers and a community's drinking water supplies. The benefits of such an approach include the protection of: public health, groundwater and drinking water resources, the community's investment in its public water supply system, property values, the community image, and the community's economic base. Wells are expensive to construct and contaminated groundwater is costly to treat. The environmental cleanup of contaminated groundwater is a lengthy and very costly endeavor. Preventing groundwater contamination is far less costly than cleaning up groundwater after it is contaminated.
Michigan's Wellhead Protection Program
Michigan's Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program was developed in response to amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The 1986 amendment mandated that each state develop a wellhead protection program. The State of Michigan prepared a program that was approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1994. Michigan's WHP Program is voluntary. However, communities choosing to participate must follow criteria established by the State program and local programs must be developed by public agencies that operate the public water supply system. The State of Michigan administers a program that provides grants to local communities to delineate 10-year capture zones, develop wellhead protection plans and implement management activities identified in the plans. The grants require a 50 percent match by local communities.
Wellhead Protection Plans
Rogers City Wellhead Protection Plan