Source Water Protection

Overview

Source water refers to sources of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater) that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells. 

Protecting source water can reduce risks by preventing exposures to contaminated water. Drinking water utilities that meet the definition of a public water system are responsible for meeting the requirements of EPA and state drinking water programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Protecting source water from contamination helps reduce treatment costs and may avoid or defer the need for complex treatment.

There are many additional benefits associated with source water protection, such as protecting water quality for wildlife and recreational use and protecting the availability and quantity of water supplies.

Access to clean, safe drinking water is the essential ingredient to a healthy and viable community. Severe human health, ecological, and economic consequences follow from losses of current and future drinking water sources—losses that can be prevented. The potential for contamination of drinking water, coupled with the high cost of treating water and locating and developing alternate water sources, makes it imperative that federal, state, and local entities adopt and implement effective strategies for long-term protection of drinking water sources.

Why Source Water Protection Matters To Groundwater

All drinking water sources, both public and private, are vulnerable to contamination from an array of human activities such as septic system discharges, waste-site releases, underground storage system leaks, nonpoint-source pollution, and agricultural chemicals. Without diligent attention to managing these potential sources of contamination, our drinking water will come at a higher cost over time. This cost includes the increasing need for water treatment, monitoring, remediation, finding alternate water supplies, providing bottled water, consultants, staff time, and litigation. Source water protection is simpler, less expensive, and more reliable over the long term.

From the Ground Water Report to the Nation

Source Water Protection - Summary Sheet : Full Chapter

Additional Resources

News

IN OUR OPINION Stormwater - A Beneficial Resource or a Contaminant: Infiltrate With Caution

Stormwater is a valuable resource that, with proper infiltration, can provide new groundwater resour...

Online Program: Empowering Youth for Water Security

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs...

The Source Water Collaborative Launches New Forestry Learning Exchange

The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) is pleased to announce the launch of a new Learning Exchange—...

ASDWA and GWPC Release Groundwater-Based Source Water Protection Paper

September 3rd is Protect Your Groundwater Day (#PYGWD). The Association of State Drinking Water Admi...

Events

09/26/2021 – 09/29/2021

The GWPC brings it all together with an in-person multi-day Annual Forum conference in the month of September. The GWPC Annual Forum is the place for attendees to continue the discussion on topics of importance through live sessions, interactive roundtables and discussion groups, and networking opportunities. Registration fees and hotel information will be announced soon.

Publications

02/2017

Ground Water Report to the Nation

Our groundwater resources are in serious need of attention. Abundant, high quality, low-cost groundwater resources are fundamental to the long-term growth and vitality of our nation, yet this most important resource is often overlooked, if not neglected. Attention to the protection and management of groundwater has consistently lagged behind that given to surface waters, meaning that historic and current water resource laws and policies deal primarily with the protection and management of our more visible lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

The purpose of the Ground Water Report to the Nation is to highlight some of the more prevalent threats to groundwater, share sucess stories, and make recommendations for improved groundwater protection and awareness.  

Note: Please visit the Ground Water Report to the Nation topics page for individual chapters of the report.

Resolutions

No resolutions were found.

Comments

02/2019

ASDWA and GWPC Comments on 2018 Farm Bill Implementation (USDA-2019-0001) Federal Register Notice 2/14/19, 84 FR 4041, 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Session

GWPC and ASDWA are the professional associations that represent the collective interests of the nation's state drinking water and ground water programs responsible for implementation of Federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulations and voluntary source water and wellhead protection programs and actions. Our comments address implementation of Farm Bill Section 2503(d), Source Water Protection Through Targeting of Agricultural Practices.

01/2019

Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: EPA Strategic Plan Information on Source Water Protection

The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) are pleased to submit the following comments on the proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) on EPA ICR No. 1816.07 (OMB Control No. 2040-0197) for “Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: EPA Strategic Plan Information on Source Water Protection.” ASDWA and GWPC are the professional associations that represent the collective interests of the nation's state drinking water and ground water programs responsible for implementation of Federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulations and voluntary source water and wellhead protection programs and actions. Collectively, the members of our organizations are responsible for reporting on this EPA strategic plan measure and will be most impacted by this ICR. The following comments are intended to broadly address the proposed rule, but they do not necessarily reflect the concerns of individual states.

05/2018

Comments on 40 CFR Part 122 [EPA–HQ–OW–2018–0063; FRL–9973–41–OW] Clean Water Act Coverage of ‘‘Discharges of Pollutants’’ via a Direct Hydrologic Connection to Surface Water

The Ground Water Protection Council (www.gwpc.org) provided comments and feedback to the EPA regarding the Agency review and potential revisions or clarification to its previous statements concerning the applicability of the CWA NPDES permit program to pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to a jurisdictional surface water. The following comments are intended to broadly address this request, but they do not necessarily reflect all of the concerns of individual states.
08/2017

Comments on EPA’s Draft National Water Program Guidance 2018-2019, Publication Number 800D17001

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) provided comments on the draft National Water Program Guidance for 2018-2019.

11/2014

Comments on proposed rule defining Waters of the United States protected under the Clean Water Act (79FR22188)

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) provided comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed rules defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).