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Enhancing a Source Water Assessment Program through Innovation and Regional Cooperation in Hampton Roads, Virginia

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Source Water Assessment Programs (SWAPs) are a requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 (section 1453). The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued a guidance document in 1999 that outlined SWAP requirements for the State. In the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) formed a Source Water Assessment Subcommittee with representatives from the sixteen participating jurisdictions including eight area municipalities with surface water sources and conjunctive use wells. Together with CH2M HILL, the Subcommittee developed a regional SWAP that not only met VDH requirements, but also laid the groundwork for source water protection as a regional team effort.

Innovative efforts based on recent technologies were used to create the SWAP. These efforts enabled accurate mapping of source water assessment areas, thorough database searches for all potential sources of contamination (termed Land Use Activity Sites LUAs) and assignment of a risk rating to each, the development of an LUA data management system that can be updated regularly, an interface between the LUA database and mapping software to map query results, LUA field checks with real-time data entry and built-in quality controls, utilization of local college students to complete field checks in a short period of time, and accurate positioning of LUAs with a global positioning system.

Cooperation among municipalities and Subcommittee members enhanced the program. Based on data obtained from the many municipalities hosting the source water assessment areas, a standardized land use classification system and associated GIS land use coverage were developed for the source water assessment areas of the region. The database of LUAs and associated mapping of database report results will be updated regularly and can be used in future source water protection efforts. This database will be maintained for the entire region by the HRPDC with input from the municipalities.

Through monthly Subcommittee meetings, the Source Water Assessment Program evolved to meet not only the requirements of VDH, but also the needs of the municipalities. The end result was a SWAP that can remain current and useful to the Hampton Roads Region.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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