Iowa: Prairie City - Adoption of a Countywide

   Wellhead Protection Ordinance


   The City of Prairie City uses two wells that are located outside of its corporate limits near
   the neighboring city of Colfax, Iowa. The City of Prairie City had an interest in protecting
   these wells from encroaching development and potential contamination and decided to
   develop a wellhead protection plan to further this goal. Because the wells were located
   outside of city limits, the city did not have the option of protecting the wells by city
   ordinance, so they looked to Jasper County for assistance.

   Priority Contamination Threat

   The priority contamination threat is from building and urban development.

   Local Involvement and Developing the Protection Plan

   Wellhead protection is promoted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources as a
   proactive method of preventing contamination of ground water and keeping the costs of
   drinking water treatment down, but it is a voluntary program that is not required.  The
   City of Prairie City took the time to review potential sources of contamination within their
   wellhead protection area, assess their susceptibility to these potential sources, and
   develop a management strategy and emergency response plan for their water system.
   Realizing that it did not have the means to prohibit development that might threaten the
   wells in the future, the city took the unusual  step of asking the Jasper County Board of
   Supervisors to adopt an amendment to their zoning ordinance to protect all municipal
   drinking water wells within the county. The Jasper County Board of Supervisors took the
   step of protecting of the drinking water sources in the county by adopting the ordinance.

   Management Measures

   The City developed the "Amendment to the Jasper County Zoning  Ordinance" and
   presented it to the Jasper County Board of Supervisors for approval on December 16,
   2003. The amendment set primary and secondary protection zones for each  municipal
   well within the county and specified the activities allowed within each zone, with all  other
   activities prohibited. To implement the ordinance, the county Planning and Zoning
   director developed a Geographic Information System  (GIS) overlay of each of the
   community public wells within Jasper County and their corresponding wellhead
   protection zones as defined by the ordinance. When an application for a building permit
   is received by the county, it is located  on the GIS map to ensure that it does not fall
   within one of the cities' wellhead protection zones. If it does, the applicant is referred to
   the city in control of the well to discuss the options available.

   Contingency  Planning

   As part of the wellhead protection plan, a contingency plan has been developed for use
   in the event that the town's water supply is threatened or compromised.
Office of Water (4606M)                      816F100012                             January 2010

   Measuring Program Effectiveness
   As a result of the City of Prairie City's initiative, the impact of this project on the local
   environment of Jasper County is substantial and enduring.  Ground water used as a
   source of public drinking water will be protected from future contamination and will allow
   cities and the county to coordinate prior to approving development near public drinking
   water wells.  Additionally, the new Ground Water Rule requires expensive virus
   monitoring of ground water sources used for drinking water unless the source is
   protected from bacterial contamination  and can ensure protection into the future.
   Passage of this ordinance will likely exempt public water systems within Jasper County
   from the monitoring and associated costs, projected to be near $1,000 per system. The
   impact of the wellhead protection ordinance will likely reduce future water rates in Jasper
   County, protect the natural ground water resource, and result in better water quality.
   Under the ordinance, the city offers the developer help to locate the best site for
   development but if there is no agreement, the County has the authority to deny the
   building permit.

   For further information, contact:
   Jennifer Bunton
   Iowa Department of Natural Resources
   (515) 725-0298
Office of Water (4606M)                       816F100012                              January 2010