LEACOCK TWP, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell this week dedicated the recently constructed public water system in Leacock Township, Lancaster County to township officials. Because of groundwater contamination in the Intercourse Village area, the system was constructed to provide safe, potable water to residences and businesses.
“Today begins a new chapter for the people of Leacock Township and ends a chapter for DEP,” said McDonnell. “DEP’s mission is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land, and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens. This new public water system does just that. It will supply the township with clean drinking water for years to come.”
Residences and businesses in the Intercourse Village area of the township had relied on private wells for drinking water until the completion of this system. The groundwater supplying those wells was found to be contaminated with Trichloroethylene (TCE) in 2004. TCE is a commercial-grade solvent that was commonly used as a degreasing agent for manufactured metal parts. Besides being a known carcinogen, prolonged exposure to TCE can result in serious neurological, cardiac, reproductive, and developmental health problems.
DEP’s Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields program investigated and identified approximately 80 private wells contaminated with TCE at levels that exceeded the EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 parts per billion for drinking water. Many other wells were impacted by TCE at levels below the MCL. DEP provided bottled water or point of entry treatment systems at properties with elevated TCE levels. DEP was unable to identify a responsible party, and a feasibility analysis in November 2008 recommended the construction of a public water system to serve the affected area.
DEP’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) provides a means of addressing releases of hazardous substances that pose a threat to human health and the environment. HSCA’s funding and authority are essential for public protection at contaminated sites where a responsible party is no longer viable or cannot be identified. HSCA supplied more than $22 million for the engineering and construction of a treatment plant, water tower, approximately 7.5 miles of distribution system piping, and supply wells.
“This has been a long, complex process. It was a massive undertaking from start to finish,” said McDonnell. “But thanks to the dedication of everyone involved, clean, public water is flowing from the faucets in Leacock Township.”
Construction of the public water system began in December 2016 and was completed in September 2020. A combination of 364 residential and commercial properties were connected within the HSCA designated area. Leacock Township elected to extend the system to surrounding areas with an additional 2.5 miles of piping, raising the total number of connections to more than 450 properties. The system has been fully operational under DEP’s supervision for the past year. At this week’s dedication, Leacock Township accepted ownership, operation, and maintenance of the public water system.
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