As Mayor, I know that one of Dayton’s most valuable assets is its aquifer and the excellent drinking water it provides. I believe it is vital to our future and will be a driver of development and jobs in our region. That is why it is so important to review, update and strengthen our source water protection. The current standards were set in 1987 and have not been updated to reflect current science or evolving water resource management practices.
Last night the Dayton City Commission voted unanimously to strengthen and update Dayton’s source water protection program. The Dayton Water Department has been working on this legislation for more than a year, holding several public hearings and the Dayton Plan Board approved the updated program. The main changes to the program:
- The protection zone is being expanded by 36% and adds a broader water protection area. The boundaries have been re-drawn to be more accurate and to better reflect the aquifer’s location.
- The early warning monitoring network is being expanded from 300 to 450 monitoring wells. This expansion will allow for the detection of contamination sooner and enable the water department to act more swiftly to prevent contamination from reaching our well fields.
- Zoning land use prohibitions will be increased from 8 categories to 26 prohibited categories. By expanding the prohibition categories, existing grandfathered businesses will not be able to expand their prohibited uses, while new businesses in prohibited categories will not be allowed to locate within the protection area. None of these prohibitions currently exist.
- The variance process will be strengthened by newly established criteria with strict standards for regulating chemical substances. These criteria will impose a more rigorous standard for responsible businesses who seek an increase, requiring clear and convincing evidence that the water will be protected.
- The Risk Point Buy-Down Programwill increase the rate it pays businesses for chemicals to be removed from their site. The rate is moving from $1.79/lb up to $4.00/lb. Additional programs will be developed, such as a reverse auction, which will reward businesses that removed chemicals from the well field. These programs demonstrate our continued commitment to our primary goal of risk reduction.
- Fines are being increased for violations of water protection regulations, the maximum fine will increase from $500 to $50,000.
I will remain committed to protecting Dayton’s water and monitoring the implementation of these changes to ensure we continue to strengthen protections and employ the latest science and technology. Thanks for your support.