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Ground water is a vast resource that underlies the Earth's surface. Nearly half of the U.S. population uses ground water for their drinking water source, including virtually all rural residents. In addition, ground water provides much of the water used for irrigation and for industry. On average, about 40 percent of the annual streamflow in the United States is comprised of ground water seepage, although in some areas more than three-fourths of the average streamflow, including virtually all fair weather flow, comes from ground water seepage into streambeds.

Ground water conditions vary widely among regions based on differences in geology, climate, and topography. Ground water use varies with the demand of the local population and industrial and agricultural requirements. Several federal statutes have ground water components, although no single federal statute has been enacted to comprehensively address ground water quality protection.

The U.S. EPA, the USGS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have the primary responsibility for ground water activities at the federal level. States have traditionally regulated water withdrawals and the permitting of water wells. The states have generally been the first to regulate activities which could adversely impact ground water, Virtually all the states have either developed ground water quality protection policies or are formulating or revising such policies.

Typically, many states rules regarding construction codes for private water wells read like the following:

'No person shall construct, alter or seal a private water system unless a valid permit for the system has been issued by the department pursuant to this rule. (1) Any person intending to construct, alter or seal a private water system or component thereof, shall, either in person or through a designated agent, make application to the department for a permit. Except as provided in paragraph (H) of this rule, no work shall commence until a valid permit has been issued. Each application shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee established under this chapter and all information required under this rule. The applicant shall sign the application form, and shall indicate the name of any registered contractor intending to do the work, if known.'

Each state's application to construct a private water system shall contain information about the location, design, construction, installation and development of the private water system or installation of test holes. The application shall include a site plan designating the location or area of the proposed or existing private water system or test hole, and distances from roadways, road rights-of-way, buildings, driveways, sewage disposal systems, sewers, existing or properly sealed water supply wells, oil and gas wells, above ground or underground fuel oil, liquid petroleum, chemical or gasoline storage tanks, streams, lakes, ponds or ditches, leaching pits and privies, manure ponds, lagoons or piles, lot lines, and easements and any other information required by the department.

It is typically the position of the National Ground Water Association that a coordinated approach by all levels of government, federal, state, and local, is needed to effectively protect and manage ground water quality. Assignment of ground water quality management responsibilities must be based on the particular strengths of each governmental level and the nature of the resource.This means many states do indeed have construction codes for private water wells and expect them to be followed to ensure a high drinking water quality.

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