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 Lakes, Estuaries
and Lagoons

Permitting and Regulation Directory


ERM Directory


Wellfield Protection Program


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The Problem
Approximately 80% of Palm Beach County's drinking water supply is from groundwater sources. Contamination is a constant threat from pollutants seeping down into the ground.

The Solution
In 1985, the Water Resources Management Advisory Board was created and tasked with developing a means to protect existing and proposed drinking water wells and associated wellfields. The Wellfield Protection Ordinance was developed and enacted to regulate businesses adjacent to wellfields that use, handle, store, and produce 5 gallons/25 pounds or more of hazardous and toxic materials.

What is a Wellfield?
A wellfield is the area surrounding a permitted well where 100,000 gallons or more of potable water is pumped out of the ground per day. Currently, there are 44 wellfields in Palm Beach County.

What are the wellfield zones?
Wellfield regulation zones are designated by the time it takes ground water to move from that location to the area where the water is pumped up and sent to the water treatment plant.

  • Zone 1 is the land area between the well and the 30-day travel time.
  • Zone 2 is the land area between the 30-day and 210-day travel time.
  • Zone 3 is the land area between the 210-day and 500-day travel time.
  • Zone 4 is the land area within the 1-foot drawdown.
In general, Zone 1 prohibits businesses from using, handling, storing, or producing hazardous and toxic materials because the threat of contamination is too great. Zone 2 requires permitting, secondary containment, and groundwater monitoring. Zone 3 requires permitting and secondary containment. Zone 4 requires permitting to ensure best management practices are in place.

How Does the Wellfield Ordinance Work?
The Ordinance established certain requirements with respect to the use, handling, production and storage of regulated substances within the wellfield zones. Those requirements are administered through a permit and address the following:

  • Containment of regulated substances
  • Emergency collection devices and cleanup materials
  • Emergency plans
  • Daily inspection of regulated substances
  • Maintenance of containment and emergency equipment
  • Reporting of spills
  • Monitoring for regulated substances in potable water wells
  • Monitoring for regulated substances in groundwater wells on permitted sites
  • Alternations and expansions of uses of regulated substances
  • Reconstruction after catastrophes
  • Financial responsibility to provide cleanup efforts

ERM's Role in Wellfield Protection
The Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was created in 1987 with a main focus to implement the Wellfield Protection Ordinance. Since that time, ERM's oversight of the Wellfield Protection Program has successfully achieved:

  • Secondary containment and monitoring and/or removal of over 3.5 million gallons of hazardous substances and 118 pollutant storage tanks from properties within Wellfield Zones 1, 2 and 3.
  • Reducing the amount of hazardous substances stored at over 300 facilities.
  • Safeguarding over 500 drinking water wells and 44 associated wellfields.
  • Testing 366 drinking water wells for 126 organic and 8 inorganic contaminants with no unexpected contamination was revealed.
  • State and national recognition.
  • ERM's successful Wellfield Protection program has provided assistance to cities, counties and even a province in Canada in developing their programs.

Technical Resources


Wellfield Links


Current Highlights and Upcoming Events

  • Hungryland Slough Natural Area - REOPENED
  • Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative Grant Program
    Now accepting applications for FY 2017. Deadline to submit is August 15, 2016. [LINK]
  • Pawpaw Preserve - UPDATE
    The Pawpaw Preserve Natural Area draft management plan is now available for public review. Public comments can be emailed to,or can be provided at the May 26, 2016 Public Hearing and Open House. Click on the link for time and location. [LINK]
  • Adventure Awaits - Sunrise Hike, May 7th 6:30am
    Join us for a guided hike through Cypress Creek Natural Area in Jupiter. For more details and to reserve your spot, click on the link to the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Firewalk, The Spark of Life, May 24th 5:30pm
    Join us at Sweetbay Natural Area in Palm Beach Gardens for this guided hike. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Namaste, Yoga in the Natural Areas, May 25th 6:30pm
    Join us at Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton for this unique experience. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Lake Worth Lagoon Fishing Challenge, June 1st - 30th
    Interested in helping collect valuable fisheries information while getting a chance to win a prize? If so, you'll want to participate in this free fishing event. Visit the web page for details. [LINK]
  • Running Wild, June 4th 7:00am
    Run with ERM at Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area will cover approximately 10 miles and take participants through a variety of habitats on a combination of hardened and primitive trails. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Sunset Photography Workshop, June 10th 6:00pm
    Take part in a guided photography tour of Winding Waters Natural Area in West Palm Beach. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Sunset Paddle, June 15th 5:30pm
    Come paddle with ERM staff to Fullerton Island in Jupiter as the sun sets over this recently restored 12 acre maritime hammock island with newly created seagrass and mangrove habitat. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Growing Up Wild, Connecting Kids to Nature, June 18th 9:00am
    ERM staff will lead you and your child on a guided walk through the woods at Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area highlighting points of interest associated with "Birds in Your Backyard" followed by an arts and crafts project each child can take home. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Adventure Awaits - Bike and Hike, June 25th 8:00am
    Discover the trails of Loxahatchee Slough with ERM staff during this unique tour that incorporates cycling and hiking. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page. [EVENT PAGE]
  • Environmental Times Newsletter
    Read the latest edition Spring 2016 for highlights on artificial reefs, climate change, LagoonFest and more. [LINK]
  • Volunteer Accomplishments in 2015
    See what ERM's volunteers were up to in 2015. [PDF]
  • Mosquito Control Update - Zika Virus
    While ERM's Mosquito Control Division is hard at work taking proactive steps to reducing mosquito popluations learn how you can protect yourself and reduce your exposure to mosquitoe-borne diseases. [PDF]
  • Scavenger Hunts
    Are available at several natural areas for youngsters to complete to recieve their Natural Area Youth Explorer certificate. [PDF]
  • ERM's Status Reports
    Stay up to date on our projects with these monthly publications. [LINK]