Abstracts

Source water protection in Mississippi: Just plugging away

Author(s): Crawford, J.; Payne, M.

Most of the 3,000 public water system (PWS) wells operating in Mississippi are screened in deep confined aquifers, often overlain with multiple confining layers. Due to this favorable hydrogeologic setting, incidences of groundwater contamination impacting PWSs have not been widely reported in Mississippi. State source water protection efforts have mainly focused on addressing abandoned wells identified in delineated protection areas that may serve as potential conduits for the introduction of contaminants. Unfortunately, the success of these past efforts has been limited due to the sizeable number of abandoned wells in need of plugging and the lack of available funding to help offset the prohibitive cost associated with meeting state regulations.

Most of the 3,000 public water system (PWS) wells operating in Mississippi are screened in deep confined aquifers, often overlain with multiple confining layers. Due to this favorable hydrogeologic setting, incidences of groundwater contamination impacting PWSs have not been widely reported in Mississippi. State source water protection efforts have mainly focused on addressing abandoned wells identified in delineated protection areas that may serve as potential conduits for the introduction of contaminants. Unfortunately, the success of these past efforts has been limited due to the sizeable number of abandoned wells in need of plugging and the lack of available funding to help offset the prohibitive cost associated with meeting state regulations.

The well decommissioning program process began with MSDH's selection of a licensed water well contractor to perform the actual plugging. Accompanying this phase was the decision to contract with MsRWA to coordinate the well abandonment procedure and to assist in prioritizing the plugging of over 200 wells identified thus far. Eleven wells considered moderate risks to contamination (as determined by SWAP) and 13 higher ranked wells have been properly decommissioned and fully funded by the program during 2012. Future plans are to maintain the well decommissioning program provided EPA continues to receive funding from Congress for the capitalization grant.

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