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Bellaire taking steps to protect underground drinking water source

T-L File Photo/SHELLEY HANSON BELLAIRE VILLAGE Council is taking steps via a proposed ordinance to protect the village’s underground drinking water source, its well fields and groundwater near the water treatment plant, shown here.

BELLAIRE — Village Council plans to approve an ordinance that calls for Bellaire to have a Source Water Protection Area to protect its underground drinking water source.

Council on Thursday held the first reading of the ordinance that is aimed at preventing contamination of its wellfields, including groundwater, within a one-year and five-year protection area.

The ordinance will allow the village to deny the construction of any business or plant that may threaten the safety of the well field or groundwater.

The village’s water treatment plant and well fields are located along the bank of the Ohio River.

“The purpose of the Source Water Protection Area is to protect public health and safety minimizing contamination of shallow surficial aquifers and preserving and protecting existing and potential sources of drinking water supplies,” the ordinance notes.

The source area is made up of two zones with each zone considered more vulnerable than the other. For example, Zone 1 is the Drinking Water Critical Impact Zone.

“Zone 1 is defined as the area within a 1-year time-of-travel distance mapped around all the public water supply wells. This zone typically constitutes the area within about 1,000 feet of a public water supply well,” according to the ordinance.

Time of travel is defined as “the distance that groundwater will travel in a specified time. This distance is generally a function of the permeability and slope of the aquifer.”

Encouraged uses in Zone 1 include parks and recreational areas such as bike or walking paths or bridges, construction of facilities related to the drinking water supply and wildlife conservation area efforts.

Some prohibited uses include: car repair shops, gas stations, truck terminals, dry cleaners, electronics manufacturing plants, machine shops, metal plating facilities, chemical processing or storage, wood preserving or treating facilities, junk or scrap yards, mines or gravel pits, irrigated nursery or greenhouse stock, confined animal feeding operations, land divisions resulting in high density, equipment maintenance or fueling areas, injection wells, dry wells or sumps except for single family homes directing a gutter to a dry well, underground storage tanks, and all other facilities involving the collection, handling, manufacture, use, storage, transfer or disposal or any solid or liquid material or waste having a potentially harmful impact on groundwater quality.

Zone 2 is the Drinking Water Potential Impact Zone. It is the remainder of the Source Water Protection Area not in Zone 1. Zone 2 is considered the 5-year time of travel zone.

The ordinance includes several performance standards that facilities must abide by if located within the Source Water Protection Area.

For example, permitted facilities must have acceptable contingency plans to be prepared for “preventing hazardous materials from contaminating the shallow/surficial aquifer should floods, fire or other natural catastrophes, equipment failure or releases occur.”

Village Council has rescheduled its regular meetings for October for 6 p.m. Oct. 14 and 28.

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