What Can You Do?

For General Public

What can the public do to protect source water?

A safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water supply is important to everyone. Protecting existing source water is a prudent way to protect public health and keep treatment costs to a minimum. Protecting drinking water is something everyone in the community can do. Whether you are a student, educator, landowner, business, farmer, or retiree, you play a role in source water protection. All community members can directly impact the quality of the water resources around them through the decisions they make on a daily basis.

An important first step in source water protection is knowing where your drinking water comes from and what potential contaminants pose a threat to your water supply. You can learn more about your specific drinking water source by visiting the Source Water Assessment Database. You can then incorporate pollution prevention, water conservation, and other best practices at work, school, and home to better protect drinking water sources. 

For Local Government

What can local governments do to protect source water?

Local governments play a primary role in protecting a community’s drinking water supply. In many cases, public drinking water systems are not operated by local governments and do not have the authority needed to protect drinking water sources. Therefore, municipal and county governments have the responsibility and legal authority to enact and enforce drinking water source protection measures.

Local governments have the authority to manage potential source water contamination within their jurisdictions. They can protect drinking water sources by including ground water and source water protection as a component in their comprehensive plans. A local government could also develop a standalone source water protection plan that outlines the actions the community will take to protect its drinking water source. Local governments can also implement ordinances and regulations—such as wellhead protection overlay zones, riparian buffers, stormwater management ordinances, and land-use controls—to protect delineated source water areas.

For Public Water Systems

What can public water systems do to protect source water?

Protecting water at the source is the first critical step water systems can take in a multiple-barrier approach that also includes treatment for contaminants, monitoring to ensure that health-based standards are met, and adequate infrastructure maintenance.

A public water system should develop a written source water protection plan outlining the management tools the water system or local community plans to use to protect its drinking water source and identifying an emergency response strategy in the event of a contamination event. Management tools can apply to existing or future potential contaminant sources and be either regulatory or nonregulatory.