What is an aquifer?

  • An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, silt, or clay) from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well.

What is sole source aquifer?

  • EPA defines a sole or principal source aquifer as an aquifer that supplies at least 50 percent of the drinking water consumed in the area overlying the aquifer. These areas may have no alternative drinking water source(s) that could physically, legally and economically supply all those who depend on the aquifer for drinking water. For convenience, all designated sole or principal source aquifers are referred to as "sole source aquifers" (SSAs).
  • SSA designation is one tool to protect drinking water supplies in areas where there are few or no alternative sources to the ground water resource and where, if contamination occurred, using an alternative source would be extremely expensive. The designation protects an area's ground water resource by requiring EPA to review certain proposed projects within the designated area. All proposed projects receiving federal funds are subject to review to ensure that they do not endanger the water source.
  • The SSA protection program is authorized by section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-523, 42 U.S.C. 300 et seq.). It states the following:
  • "If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon 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 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."

Where can I find more information on our aquifer?

  • Because our aquifer is a federally designated sole source aquifer, there is a multitude of governmental agency sites that provide all manner of information on our aquifer. We are currently compiling these links into this site.

Who drinks water from this aquifer?

  • The Aquifer Service Area includes the Townships of Mahwah and Wayne and the Boroughs of Ramsey, Oakland, Franklin Lakes, Allendale and Pompton Lakes in New Jersey. In New York, the Aquifer Service Area includes the Towns of Ramapo, Haverstraw, Orangetown and Clarkstown and the Villages of Hillburn, Suffern and Spring Valley and the Township of Stony Point.