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Cleaning up groundwater, once it becomes contaminated, is not the answer to protecting our drinking water quality, because cleanup is rarely successful and is always very costly. On average, it is 27 times more costly to clean up contamination than it is to prevent it. Preventing groundwater contamination is the key to maintaining our health and ensuring the County remains a desirable place to live and work.
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WHPA's under the Health Department’s WHP Program cover large portions of South Bend, Lakeville, Mishawaka, Walkerton, North Liberty, and New Carlisle as well as unincorporated areas of the County. WHPA's are usually circular or elliptical in shape and may be several miles in length.
If a business is near a public water well or large water tower, there is a good chance it is in a WHPA. Some businesses have been informed by their public water supply company that they are in a WHPA. If you do not know if your business is in a WHPA, contact your local public water system or the Health Department to find out for sure.
Generally, if your business is within a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) and you have hazardous materials, petroleum products, or dry wells on your property you may need to obtain a permit. However, there are exclusions, exceptions, and special conditions that may affect whether you need a permit.
If a facility has dry wells or any of the following that contain hazardous materials or petroleum products a permit may be needed: - Above ground storage tanks - Drum storage areas - Improperly abandoned well - Major construction area - Motor vehicle salvage yards - Motor vehicle waste recovery well - Other threats as determined by the Health Department - Outdoor storage area - Rail or truck loading facility - Surface impediment - Underground storage tanks - Waste pile.
Even if a business is not required to obtain a permit, it is still subject to inspections and must report spills of hazardous materials to the Health Department.
The greatest risk of not complying with the Ordinance is that our groundwater supply may become contaminated and threaten the health of our residents. Our communities may no longer be considered healthy and desirable places to live and conduct business. We must ensure this does not occur.
No one would intentionally contaminate the groundwater, but sometimes our lack of knowledge or carelessness can be just as damaging. If contaminants do reach the groundwater, the responsible business would be required to pay for the cleanup. The costs can be very high. Failure to comply with the Ordinance may also subject businesses to enforcement action including fines up to $1,500 per day. Our goal is cooperation and compliance. If businesses, public water supplies, and the Health Department work together, we can maintain the quality of our drinking water supplies with minimal impact on business operations.