Southeastern Pa. Groundwater Protected Area (SEPA-GWPA)
Regulations Background

The GWPA regulations incorporate a two-tiered system of water withdrawal limits:

  • The first tier serves as a warning that a subbasin is "potentially stressed." In potentially stressed subbasins, applicants for new or expanded ground water withdrawals are required to implement one or more programs to mitigate adverse impacts of additional ground water withdrawals. Acceptable programs include: conjunctive use of ground water and surface water, expanded water conservation programs, programs to control ground water infiltration, and artificial recharge and spray irrigation.

  • The second tier serves as the maximum withdrawal limit. Subsequent amendments to Res. No. 1980-18 approved in 1999 set numerical ground water withdrawal limits that cannot be exceeded for certain watersheds that fall either entirely or partly within the GWPA.

The GWPA regulations also:

  • Provide incentives for holders of existing DRBC dockets and Protected Area permits to implement one or more of the above programs to reduce the adverse impacts of their ground water withdrawals. If docket or permit holders successfully implement one or more programs, the Commission will extend the docket or permit duration for up to 10 years.

  • Specify criteria for the issuance and review of dockets and permits as well as procedures for revising withdrawal limits to correspond with integrated water resource plans adopted by municipalities for subbasins.

  • Establish protocol for updating and revising withdrawal limits to provide additional protection for streams designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as "high quality," or "wild, scenic, or pastoral" as defined by the state's Scenic Rivers program.
Download Regulations and Related Resolutions

Southeastern Pennsylvania Ground Water Protected Area Regulations (pdf 178 KB; revised to include amendments through June 23, 1999)

Resolution No. 1980-18 (pdf 2.1 MB) created the requirement that new or expanded well water projects located within the GWPA (see link to map at right) involving an average withdrawal of more than 10,000 gallons per day (gpd) from a well or group of wells operated as a system must obtain a DRBC Protected Area Permit.

Subsequent Amendments:

  • On January 28, 1998, after holding public briefings and hearings, the Commission amended the 1980 regulations to establish numerical ground water withdrawal limits for the 14 watersheds in the Neshaminy Creek Basin.

  • After completing another public rulemaking process, on June 23, 1999, the DRBC again amended its GWPA regulations to set numerical withdrawal limits for the 62 additional subbasins, or watersheds. View the 1999 Amendments

Resolution No. 2002-7: Guidelines for Developing an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Under the Southeastern Pennsylvania Ground Water Protected Area Regulations (includes link to download guidelines)

Pre-Application Instructions and Application Download

Prior to submitting an application for ground water withdrawal in the GWPA, the applicant shall undertake the following:

At least 30 days prior to exploratory drilling in the GWPA, submit an advanced notice in writing to DRBC which includes the following:

  1. A map (preferably a USGS topographic map) showing the location of the proposed new well, perennial streams, and existing wells within the radius set forth in Section 11a of Resolution No. 1980-18.

  2. The anticipated average and maximum daily withdrawal rates of the proposed project.

  3. The purpose of the project and the feasibility of satisfying water requirements on a timely basis from existing supplies and facilities.

  4. Certification that the proposed test well site is not within any wetland or floodway.

After preliminary review of the advance notice, an informal conference may be scheduled by the Project Review Section of the Water Resources Management Branch or upon request of the prospective applicant.

Additional preliminary information and data may be requested for DRBC or state review in order to substantiate a formal application for a GWPA Permit for the project.

Once this is completed, the applicant can proceed with a formal application for a ground water withdrawal: