Source Water Protection
Source water is untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes or underground aquifers that is used to provide public drinking water, as well as to supply private wells used for human consumption. Some water treatment is usually necessary, so public utilities treat most of the drinking water before it enters the home. However, the cost of this treatment, as well as the risks to public health, can be reduced by protecting source water from contamination.1 The idea of preventing contamination from entering the source water before it is treated is known as 'Source Water Protection'. The protection of our source water is not only important to maintain a clean supply for human consumption, but to ensure that our environment is healthy for all uses of water.
1 EPA's Source Water Protection Website 2 Modified from AWWA, Source Water Protection, Operational Guide to AWWA Standard G300
Image Credit: WATER.EPA.GOV
A Source Water Protection IQ Test is presented here in order to help you review the concepts of the various core components of source water protection.
In this test, clicking on a choice will automatically enter the number of points for that option and keep track of the score for each section of the Source Water Protection IQ as well as the total cumulative score. If a new answer is selected, the new choice and the new points will appear and the old points will be removed.
The Source Water Protection IQ Test will take you from considerations of your vision for source water protection to characterization of areas of concern and evaluation of the data available. It then guides you to consider your goals for source water protection and evaluates your action plan for implementing your goals. Finally, it asks you to consider stakeholder input and your process for continued evaluation and review of your plan. Taking the test in this order before starting a source water protection plan should help you in considering the steps needed to initiate and fully implement a plan.
As the utility progresses, the Source Water Protection IQ can be repeated and the scores compared to previous scores. Repeating it periodically can point out gaps in your information or weaknesses in your process and help you to focus your efforts efficiently. At a minimum, you may wish to repeat the test every year.
Start the Source Water IQ HERE
Source Water Protection ResourcesPlanning Tools
A wide variety of technical and managerial source water protection practices are available for use, including management practices for point and nonpoint pollution sources; stormwater management; wastewater treatment plant upgrades and maintenance; rules and assistance for maintaining septic systems; agricultural management practices, incentives, and land stewardship programs; erosion and sediment control for construction projects; land-use controls; source water monitoring (including early warning monitoring and chemical and microbial pollutant source tracking); and watershed protection, management, and stewardship programs.
In order for a water utility to implement source water protection practices they must have a plan in place. The following two planning tools will help guide a utility in their decision making processes.
Source Water AssessmentPurpose
The objective of a source water assessment is to identify point-sources and non-point-sources of potential contamination to drinking water source(s). For example, a point-source may be a business' discharge pipe or a septic system. Examples of non-point-sources may be chemically treated agricultural land or disturbed land on a construction site.Review and revision
A source water assessment addendum must be provided for each new water source added to the system.
Source Water/Wellhead Protection PlanPurpose
Virtually every stream, lake, river and aquifer in the United States is used as (or is connected to) a drinking water source. Protecting these source waters from contaminants is a major national priority in protecting public health through ensuring a clean, safe drinking water supply. The source water protection plan will respond to the priorities identified in the source water assessment (see above).Considerations
Writing the plan will normally require a project team including representatives from not only the water system, but also agricultural/commercial/industrial/development businesses, any local/state/federal/tribal entities with authority to make regulatory or land use decisions in the source water protection areas, other water providers, conservation/environmental/watershed groups, teachers, and citizens.Review & revision
A source water protection plan addendum must be provided for each new water source added to the system. Otherwise, source water protection plans and implementation should be reviewed annually, but no less than once every five years.
Operational Guide to AWWA Standard G300, Source Water Protection, Second Edition Download HERE
Hopper, Kim, and Ernst, Caryn. Source Protection Handbook - Using Land Conservation to Protect Drinking Water Supplies. The Trust for Public Land and the American Water Works Association, 2005. Download HERE
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Consider the Source: A Pocket Guide to Protecting Your Drinking Water. Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, June 2002. Download HERE