Drinking Water

The Town of Stanley is blessed with an abundance of clean drinking water. Recognizing the need to protect this water supply, the Town updated its well head protection plan in 2007. As part of the update, the land areas contributing groundwater to the Town’s wells were remapped, potential contaminant sources were identified, and suggestions to protect groundwater quality were made. This page is designed to explain these issues to you, and request your help in protecting our excellent drinking water. Working together, we can ensure the protection of our drinking water for the future.

Stanley’s Ground Water Resources
Stanley’s wells draw water from a series of limestone bedrock formations formed over 500 million years ago. A major geologic fault known as the Stanley Fault extends through the Town. The fault is important, as it may provide a conduit through which groundwater flows. Although, no one knows for sure, one thought suggests groundwater enters the fault, flows along the fault, and then discharges to the Shenandoah River.
Pumping groundwater from the Town’s production wells alters the natural flow of groundwater. By understanding the movement of water through the bedrock near the wells, areas that contribute water to the wells have been mapped.

In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey published a study in 2003 that included an age-dating analysis of the groundwater available to the Town’s wells. This study indicates groundwater pumped from the Town’s well range is from 16.5 to 48.5 years old, suggesting the groundwater resource is young and susceptible to contamination from the surface.

Well Head Protection Areas

Well head protection areas are mapped based on the zone of contribution to a well – the land area around a well through which rain and other water percolates into the soil and travels to the well. The map shows zoning within the Town’s updated well head protection areas. Proper management of these area is critical to protect the Town’s water supply.

Stanley is fortunate that the majority of the rock formations supplying water to the wells are overlain by clayey sedimentary deposits over 100 feet thick, which can restrict the movement of water (and contaminants) from the land surface into the underlying limestone aquifer. Even with the natural protection provided by the deposits, we must ensure activities that occur in the well head protection areas will not threaten the groundwater supply.


An aquifer is an 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. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology. 

Potential Contamination Problems

A variety of uses related to industry, commerce, and even residential life threatens the quality of water. To an extent, vegetation and topsoil can be attenuate, or break down, contaminants. However, where the intensity of land uses exceeds the attenuation capacity, groundwater contaminations may result.

Toxic And Hazardous Waste

Although Stanley is not highly industrialized, numerous businesses use toxic and hazardous materials. Even small quantities of these chemicals can contaminate water resources. These chemicals should never be put directly onto the ground and their containers should not be discarded onto the ground, or in the trash.

Underground Storage Tanks

Underground storage of petroleum products and hazardous material has historically been a significant source of groundwater contaminatation. Even a small leak can contaminate a substantial amount of water. For example, seven drops of benzene (a component of gasoline) will contaminate enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. Underground tanks in well head protection areas should be removed or monitored carefully to protect water quality.

What Can You Do?

     Learn where the well head protection areas for your water supply are located and alert the Town Superintendent to any potentially contaminating activities in those areas.

     Have your gasoline or home healing oil storage tanks checked for leaks or removed.

     Use lawn pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. Never exceed the manufacturer’s guidelines.

     Where possible, use “non-toxic” products, which contain no harmful substances.

     Dispose of household cleaners, detergents, and other toxic and hazardous wastes properly. Otherwise these products may end up in your water supply.

     Use agricultural chemicals sparingly. Follow the instructions on the labels.

     Take used motor oil to a gas station for recycling. Don’t dump it on the ground or down a sink or storm drain.