Groundwater Protection Plans

Recently, our coworkers in the Division of Water published information on the Groundwater Protection Plan (GPP) regulation, 401 KAR 5:037. In many rural parts of the state, groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for our citizens. Therefore, it is crucial that we monitor and protect our groundwater supply. Read below to find out more about GPPs and what your facility should be doing to help the situation.

Why protect groundwater from pollution?

Even if our drinking water primarily comes from rivers, lakes or reservoirs, we need to be mindful of the things we do that may pollute groundwater. This is because the groundwater beneath us may travel great distances to eventually feed springs or wells being used for someone else’s water supply. Groundwater is the only source of drinking water for people living in many rural areas of Kentucky. Some cities rely on wells and springs to supply water to their residents. In fact, Georgetown relies on Royal Spring for drinking water, and Louisville obtains water from several large wells.

Once polluted, groundwater is very difficult and expensive to clean up. It is always best to prevent groundwater pollution in the first place. That is the purpose of Kentucky Administrative Regulation 401 KAR 5:037. Section 2 of this regulation lists the activities that require the development and implementation of a GPP. Should any of those activities be conducted at your facility, you must develop and implement a GPP.

So, now you may ask…

What is a GPP?

A Groundwater Protection Plan (GPP) identifies activities at a site that have the potential to pollute groundwater and defines best management practices (BMPs) that will be put in place to protect groundwater.

What is the purpose of a GPP?

A GPP implements actions that protect groundwater for all current and future uses, and when implemented properly, prevents groundwater pollution.

Am I required to develop a GPP?

The 1994 Kentucky Administrative Regulation 401 KAR 5:037 requires anyone engaged in activities that have the potential to pollute groundwater to develop and implement a GPP. This applies to all commercial, municipal, county, state and federal government facilities and private citizens. Some examples of facilities that would be required to have a GPP include businesses that manufacture or store chemicals, hazardous waste generators, auto salvage yards, convenience stores, commercial chemical application businesses, water and wastewater treatment plants, bulk petroleum storage plants, county and state road departments and state and federal military posts. Operators of on-site sewage treatment systems (septic systems, sewage lagoons, wetlands) also must have a GPP.

Where do I find information about GPPs?

The Groundwater Protection Plan (GPP) Program is operated out of the Groundwater Section of the Watershed Management Branch in the Kentucky Division of Water. The GPP Program website contains information about GPPs. The regulation, guidelines for developing GPPs, generic GPPs and fact sheets can be accessed at  From the main page, click on Programs, Groundwater, Groundwater Protection and then Groundwater Protection Plans.

What if I have questions or need assistance in developing my GPP?

Contact Patricia Keefe, Program Coordinator, at 502-564-3410, ext. 4947.

What is the deadline for developing my GPP?

Kentucky Administrative Regulation 401 KAR 5:037 was promulgated in August 1994 as required by Kentucky Revised Statute KRS 224. GPPs had to be developed and implemented by August 1995. In 2012, GPPs must be developed by start up of regulated activities. If you are already conducting activities subject to 401 KAR 5:037 without a GPP, then your GPP is overdue.

Do I have to send my GPP to the GPP Program?

GPPs do not have to be approved to be implemented. In fact, GPPs are not required to be submitted for review and approval unless (1) they are called in by a representative of the Department for Environmental Protection , (2) they are called in by the GPP Program  or (3) they are required as part of an Agreed Order from the Division of Enforcement. However, it is important to note that anyone from the general public can ask to review your GPP (401 KAR 5:037, Section 4 (7), (a) through (c)). They must make their request in writing, and in return you have 10 working days to notify them of where the GPP will be available for review. GPPs can be voluntarily submitted to the GPP Program for review and approval, and information regarding submittal of your GPP may be obtained from the GPP Program website.

Where should I keep my GPP?

Your GPP must be kept at the site where the regulated activities are being conducted. Having a GPP on file in an office somewhere does not keep a facility in compliance with 401 KAR 5:037. The GPP must be retained and implemented at the site for which it was developed. However, if the site is unoccupied for eight hours or longer, then GPPs may be retained in the facility office.

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