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Wellfield Protection

Picture of a large well that pipes water from the aquifer to the water treatment plant 


The majority of Palm Beach County's drinking water supply comes from underground freshwater aquifers. Contamination is a daily threat from pollutants seeping into the ground, especially in areas next to the wells that pump water out of the aquifer - known as wellfields.  To address existing and future threats to the drinking water supply, ERM was created in 1987 to implement the new Wellfield Protection Ordinance .  The ordinance regulates  businesses that use, handle and store regulated substances including but not limited to oil and gas, pool chemicals, new and used paint, solvents, and insecticides. 

ERM has safeguarded over 500 wells and 44 associated wellfields that provide drinking water to residents and visitors in Palm Beach County.


What is a Wellfield?

A wellfield is the area surrounding a permitted well where 100,000 gallons or more of potable water is pumped out of the ground per day.

They are further categorized into wellfield zones based on the time it takes water in the aquifer to travel to the wellhead where it is pumped out and sent to a treatment plant.

What are the zones?

Zone 1 
Area between the well and the 30-day travel time. Using, handling, storing, or producing hazardous and toxic materials is prohibited.

Zone 2
Area between the 30-day and 210-day travel time. Permits required along with secondary containment, and groundwater monitoring.

Zone 3 
Area between the 210-day and 500-day travel time. Permits required and secondary containment.

Zone 4
Area within the 1-foot drawdown. Permits required to ensure best management practices. 

County Highlights

44 regulated wellfields

3.5 million gallons of hazardous substances  contained or removed from Zones 1, 2 and 3

300 businesses reduced the amount of hazardous substances stored onsite

366 drinking water wells tested for various contaminants

Assisted other governments, including a province in Canada, in developing similiar programs.