Region 1: EPA New England

Canoe River FR

Updated Contact Information
Michael Hill • (617) 918-1398

(Cite as: 58 FR 28402)




Sole Source Aquifer Designation for the Canoe River Aquifer

Thursday, May 13, 1993

*28402 AGENCY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: In response to a petition from the Canoe River Aquifer Advisory Committee, notice is hereby given that the Regional Administrator, Region I of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has determined that the Canoe River Aquifer satisfies all determination criteria for designation as a sole source aquifer, pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. s300h-3(e). The following findings were made in accordance with the designation criteria: the Canoe River Aquifer supplies 50% of the water needs for the communities within the service area boundaries; there are no viable alternative sources of sufficient supply; the boundaries of the designated area and project review area have been reviewed and approved by EPA; and, if contamination were to occur, it would pose a significant public health hazard and a serious financial burden to the communities within the aquifer service area. As a result of this action, EPA may review, suggest modifications to, or withhold funding for, any federal financially assisted projects proposed for construction within the Canoe River Aquifer that may pose an adverse risk of ground water contamination.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This determination shall become effective May 27, 1993.

ADDRESSES: The data upon which these findings are based is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I, Water Management Division, One Congress Street, Boston, MA 02203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerome J. Healey, Chief of the Ground Water Management Section & Water Supply Branch, EPA Region I, JFK Federal Building (WGP 445), Boston, MA 02203; (617) 565-3610.


I. Background

Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C., section 300h-3(e), states:
If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

On December 10, 1992, EPA received a petition from the Canoe River Aquifer Advisory Committee, representing the towns of Sharon, Easton, Mansfield, Norton, and Foxborough, requesting the designation of the Canoe River Aquifer as a sole source aquifer under Section 1424(e) of the SDWA. The Sole Source Aquifer designation process consists of four phases, as outlined in the Sole Source Aquifer Designation Petitioner Guidance: Phase I--Petition Preparation, Phase II--Initial Petition Review/Determination of Completeness, Phase III-- Detailed Review/Technical Verification, and Phase IV--Designation Determination. The Water Management Division has determined that the Canoe River Aquifer Advisory Committee's petition fully satisfies the first three phases of the designation process.

II. Basis for Determination

Among the factors considered by the Regional Administrator as part of the detailed review and technical verification process for designating an area under section 1424(e) were:

  1. The Canoe River Aquifer is a high-yielding stratified drift aquifer which the service area population relies on for 50% of its drinking water needs.
  2. There exists no reasonable alternative drinking water source or combination of sources of sufficient quantity to supply the designated service area.
  3. EPA has found that the Canoe River Aquifer Advisory Committee has appropriately delineated the boundaries of the aquifer recharge area, project designation area and project review area.
  4. While the quality of the Canoe River Aquifer's ground water is considered to be good, it is highly vulnerable to contamination due to its geological characteristics and possible land use activities. The Aquifer is a stratified drift aquifer consisting of shallow sand and gravel deposits. The shallow nature of the Aquifer allows contaminants to be rapidly introduced into the groundwater with minimal assimilation. It is this high vulnerability to contamination, coupled with the aquifer's value as the principal source of drinking water for the residents of the five towns, that could pose a significant public health hazard.

III. Description of the Canoe River Aquifer Designated Area and Project Area

The Canoe River Aquifer is located in Bristol and Norfolk Counties, Massachusetts, approximately twenty miles south-southwest of Boston. Part of the Taunton River Basin, the Canoe River Aquifer sub basin is approximately twenty five square miles in area, and encompasses portions of the towns of Sharon (Norfolk County), Easton, Mansfield, Norton, and Foxborough (Bristol County).

The Canoe River begins its headwaters south of Massapoag Lake in Sharon and flows in a southerly direction through Foxborough, Mansfield, Easton, and Norton to Winnecunnet Pond in Norton. The surficial features above the Canoe River Aquifer are characterized by an extensive system of surface waters, wetlands, floodplains, and productive wildlife habitat. Topography is characterized by isolated linear hill formations separated by expansive lowlands. Land surface is generally flat to gently rolling, with elevations ranging from 50 feet to 350 feet above mean sea level. Volcanic and granitic rocks of pre-Carboniferous age underlie the northern and southern edges of the Taunton River Basin, while sedimentary rocks of Carboniferous age, consisting of sandstone, shale, siltstone, conglomerate, and coal beds underlie the interior portion of the basin. Glacial stratified drift deposits composed primarily of sand and gravel form the major aquifers in the basin, of which the Canoe River is a sub basin. The aquifers are generally long, narrow, and thin, with saturated thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 feet. Ten municipal wells currently provide high quality drinking water to approximately 50,000 people within the five towns. Almost one hundred rivers, brooks, streams, and extensive wetland and floodplain areas support a rich and ecologically diverse habitat for wildlife. Uplands within the watershed are characterized by a mixture of open fields, deep woods, transitional woodlands, and over a thousand acres of productive farmland and cranberry bogs.

IV. Information Utilized in Determination

The information utilized in this determination includes: the petition submitted to EPA Region I by the Canoe River Aquifer Advisory Committee, and letters of support received during the public comment period. This information is available to the public and may be inspected at the address listed above.

V. Project Review

EPA Region I is working with the federal agencies most likely to provide financial assistance to projects in the projectreview area. Interagency procedures and Memoranda of Understanding have been developed through which EPA will be notified of proposed commitments by federal agencies to projects which could contaminate the Canoe River Aquifer. EPA will evaluate such projects, and, where necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comments when appropriate. Should the Regional Administrator determine that a project may contaminate the aquifer through its recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for federal financial assistance may be entered into for that project. However, a commitment for federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to ensure that it will not contaminate the aquifer. Included in the review of any federal financially assisted project will be the coordination with state and local agencies and the project's developers. Their comments will be given full consideration and EPA's review will attempt to complement and support state and local ground water protection measures. Although the project review process cannot be delegated, EPA will rely to the maximum extent possible on any existing or future state and/or local control measures to protect the quality of ground water in the Canoe River Aquifer.

VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comments

A total of sixteen written comments were received in support of the petition. Seven people spoke in favor of the petition at the public hearing. There were no comments opposing the petition, either in written form or at the public hearing.

*28404 DatedDated: April 29, 1993.

Paul G. Keough,

Acting Regional Administrator.

(FR Doc. 93-11323 Filed 5-12-93; 8:45 am)


58 FR 28402-03, 1993 WL 153370 (F.R.)