Article courtesy of John J. Hopkins| November 3, 2015 | The Buffalo News | Shared as educational material
Wales residents recently received a crash course on what they can do to protect the town’s groundwater, which they rely on for drinking.
Concerns about fracking and the introduction of biosolids such as sewer sludge used for fertilizer on farms in nearby communities convinced the town last year to conduct a groundwater study.
Wales is the only municipality in Erie County that relies entirely on groundwater for its potable water.
“The purpose of this whole effort is to learn more about the water resources we have in the town,” said Councilwoman Jude A. Hartrich. “We really just care about making sure that we’re protecting the aquifer for each and every resident in Wales.”
The New York Rural Water Association tested groundwater throughout the town last year, and although the data isn’t ready to be shared, the group provided residents with information they can use to keep their water safe.
Hartrich said the meeting provided excellent information for protecting the town’s water supply.
“It was a good first step to summarize everything we’ve learned to date from our survey,” she said. “Now we can formulate the next steps for a protection plan for the town.”
Steven Winkley, a water resources specialist with the association who wrote the report, said that the most prevalent sources of contamination in rural parts of the state are spills and leaks, de-icing salt storage, septic systems and the application and storage of nutrients.
In Wales, one to two spills are reported to the DEC each year, with private dwellings – mostly from fuel oil systems – serving as the largest source.
“That’s average for New York State towns,” Winkley added. “The good news is they have all been investigated and fixed.”
To protect drinking water, residents are advised to use a registered, licensed well driller and to drill in a place that’s as far as possible from contaminant sources such as a septic system.
Residents also were advised to have their wells checked annually for coliform bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants.
Municipalities are encouraged to use conservation easements to protect sensitive water resources and provide tax incentives to encourage water conservation.
The water survey is the end product of an effort that began in 2011 to protect Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial Park, which was then known as Hunters Creek Park. Winkley plans to share water survey results with residents in the spring.