Breaking News: Residential Water-Well Legislation
Introduced in Both the PA House and Senate!
by Todd Giddings, Ph.D., P.G., PGWA Education Committee Chairman
(The deadline for receipt of scholarship applications for the 2015 PGWA Scholarship Program is February 28, 2015, and the application form and application requirements are at this link.)
It is appropriate that you will be contacting your Senator and your Representative before or during National Groundwater Awareness Week on March 8-14, 2015. To learn more about this event, please click on this link.
House Bill 343 and Senate Bill 1461 both died in the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee at the end of last year's legislative session. In January 2015, Represenatives Harper and Godshall each re-introduced HB 343 that died in the Senate Environmental Recources and Energy Committee last session. Senator Vance announced she would be re-introducing SB 1461 in the near future.
What can you do to support this re-introduced legislation? Call your Representative and call your Senator and ask them to become co-sponsors of this legislation.
Representative Godshall introduced HB 48. To read his memo about his legislation and requesting co-sponsors, click this link.
Representative Harper introduced HB 81. To read her memo about her legislation and requesting co-sponsors, click this link.
Senator Vance will re-introduce SB 1461. To read her memo about this legislation and requesting co-sponsors, click this link.
When you call, to help you explain the reasons why Pennsylvania needs residential water well construction standards, I have prepared some talking points you could use when you talk to your Representative and your Senator. You could pick a few points that you feel the strongest about or that relate directly to you.
To get the name and phone number of your Representative and Senator go to this PA Legislature look-up link.
Why does Pennsylvania need standards for the proper construction of residential water wells?
To print out this list of reasons, click on this link.
- 4½ million people (37%) of Pennsylvania’s population use groundwater as their potable water source. The ground-water resources of Pennsylvania need to be protected against contamination entering through improperly constructed residential wells.
- Pennsylvania has an estimated 80 trillion gallons of groundwater residing underground in its aquifers. This vast volume of water is enough to submerge the entire state beneath eight feet of water if it were brought to the land surface.
- It is estimated that more than 15,000 new water wells and geothermal boreholes are constructed in Pennsylvania each year. The absence of any residential well construction standards allows wells and boreholes to be improperly constructed and to threaten the quality of Pennsylvania’s groundwater.
- Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of residential wells of any state in the nation. Clearly, the ground-water resources of Pennsylvania are an important water resource worthy of protection.
- Pennsylvania is one of only two states with no residential well construction standards. The other 48 states all have standards for the proper construction of residential water wells to protect their state’s ground-water resources.
- The Pennsylvania Groundwater Association has been instrumental in the development of legislation to create residential water well construction standards in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania legislature has failed to pass the legislation to create standards for residential well construction.
- Improperly constructed residential wells have been identified as potential threats to ground-water quality within Source Water Protection Areas of public water-supply wells. There are documented cases of improperly constructed residential wells providing a pathway for surface and subsurface contamination to impact Pennsylvania’s ground-water resources.
- Many public water systems have groundwater as their source. Pennsylvania requires all public water-supply wells to be properly constructed to protect the quality of the groundwater and the health of the public drinking the water from the public water system.
- Properly constructed residential water wells protect the quality of the water produced from the well. This proper residential well construction protects the health of the family using the groundwater from their well.
- Properly constructed residential water wells also protect the quality of the groundwater in Pennsylvania’s source-water aquifers. Contamination entering the groundwater through improperly constructed residential water wells can move within its source-water aquifer and contaminate neighboring wells.
- The number 1 legislative priority to implement under the new State Water Plan is to: “Enact legislation to require proficiency-based licensing and certification of water well drillers, and to establish statewide private water well construction standards.”
- The Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission’s Final Report recommends that: “The Commonwealth should enact legislation establishing construction standards for new private water wells to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water to its residents.”