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Water supply protection is something that communities and their leaders should consider when evaluating short and long term viability. According to the PA Department of Environmental Protection, public water supplies account for 16% of the total water withdrawals in Pennsylvania (2008).
Local leaders have a number of tools from which they can address the issues of water supply for their community. One significant example is the use of Wellhead Protection Overlay Zoning Districts. Zoning itself is a planning tool that regulates where land uses can be located within a municipality. It also regulates the intensity and density of these uses. Its purpose is to direct land uses in zones (e.g. residential, commercial) where they are best suited and compatible.
Overlay zoning serves as a supplement to the underlying district requirements and includes restrictions for unique features or conditions. In the case of a Wellhead Protection Overlay Zone, certain additional land uses would not be permitted or would be required to take special precautions due to concerns over water supply impact.
Municipalities can also incorporate other methods of water supply protection, such as stormwater management best practices regulations, concentrating development away from critical recharge areas, and protecting open space.
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