Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence

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Berks County Water and Sewer Association: Berks County Source Water Protection Program

Incorporating new and existing protection zones to maintain safe drinking water in Berks County, this program identifies possible sources of contamination for both surface water and groundwater. The program combines education and water quality improvements to the Chesapeake Bay and Schuylkill River watersheds and covers 266,000 people in Berks County.

The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence are awarded each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Each year the Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence provide statewide recognition to businesses and organizations involved in a cross-section of environmental initiatives from cleaning up watersheds, saving energy, eliminating pollution, reducing waste and more. The awards highlight those projects that promote innovative technological advances, partnerships, public service and environmental outreach as well as encourage pollution prevention, demonstrate economic impact or employ innovative technology.

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Berks County Source Water Protection Program  

In 2017, the Berks County Water & Sewer Association and the Berks County Planning Commission completed a County-wide program to combine source water protection and stormwater management strategies that crossed both watershed and municipality boundaries. This program was selected to receive one of the 2018 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).  These awards were presented at a banquet on April 26, with PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell as the keynote speaker.

Community water systems use a variety of surface waterways and groundwater wells and springs to provide safe, clean drinking water to about 70% of Berks County residents. To help protect the drinking water, these water systems and volunteers from other local agencies, organizations, and businesses worked with the Department of Environmental Protection and other partners to develop a source water protection program. Currently, 16 community water systems have a DEP-approved plan, 5 have plans-in-progress or have registered for the program. An additional 9 plans have also been developed for small systems like mobile home parks. Some of the program’s management strategies include public education, partnering with the Berks County Department of Emergency Services, and working with local businesses to reduce pollutants from entering the watershed.

Along with source water protection, the program will assist participants with some stormwater management solutions required by Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) requirements. Staff from the Berks County Conservation District will provide ongoing leadership for the program, which will be funded through donations and fundraisers from the Berks County Water & Sewer Association, which plans to hold a golf tournament in September to support projects through the Berks Watershed Restoration Fund. A copy of the Executive Summary of the program is available on the Planning Commission website.

For more information on the Berks County Source Water Protection Program, please contact the program Coordinator, Kent Himelright.