Source Water Protection Plan

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Producing safe clean and affordable drinking water involves using a multiple barrier approach comprised of three main interrelated steps; (1) protecting source water supply areas, (2) treating drinking water to standards, and (3) monitoring and maintaining the integrity of the drinking water distribution system to ensure successful delivery to customers. However, the single most important barrier continues to be source water protection for the following reasons (Trust for Public Lands, 2004):

  • The emergence of new contaminants that suppliers may not be prepared to test or treat
  • More frequent spikes in contaminant loads due to storms and flooding that make treatment more challenging
  • Constantly changing standards and regulations regarding new contaminants, which are present in the water long before they are identified as threats to public health
  • Increases treatment and capital costs due to higher pollutant loads and changing water quality standards
  • The loss of natural lands to development impacts not only the quality and quantity of drinking water, but also the cost of treating it.
  • With the loss of natural barriers protecting the source water supply, man‐made or engineered barriers must be introduced in treatment.

The City of Wilmington developed the Source Water Protection Plan (SWP Plan) in order to better protect its water supply for future generations, reduce long term operating costs and carbon footprint, avoid future treatment requirements, improve planning and response to future spills and water quality events, and leverage upstream investments to protect its water supply.

Recognizing the efforts and input of the many dedicated stakeholders in the Brandywine Creek Watershed who have been involved with this SWP Plan is very important. The SWP Plan integrates the significant amount of information from their previous studies and plans. Without the involvement of these stakeholders and the benefit of their previous efforts, this plan would have not been possible.

Amended Agricultural Priority Areas

November 19, 2014

The City’s Source Water Protection Program, since 2010, has resulted in the preservation of over 1,000 acres on 15 farms in the agricultural priority areas of the Brandywine Creek.

While the initial priority cluster areas were concentrated in Honey Brook Township, many dairy farms are located outside these clusters and are along first and second order tributaries of the West and East Branches of the Brandywine Creek. The Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) ranked the Upper West and East Branches of the Brandywine Creek the highest priorities overall for agricultural protection and mitigation (see Table 3-9 in SWPP). Therefore, the City has amended Fig 7-2 in the plan to expand priority areas to include properties directly adjacent to the East and West Branches of the Brandywine Creek.

In addition, agricultural preservation and mitigation often involve riparian buffer restoration and reforestation. The SWPP identified first order riparian lands and headwater areas as top priority areas for stream buffers and reforestation. Thus, the City has expanded these priority areas to include parcels directly containing first and second order streams that enter the West and East Branches.

Effective October 29, 2014, Figure 7-2 is amended to include these expanded Honeybrook priority areas and shall replace the original Figure 7-2.

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