Threats to Your Drinking Water
What Communities Can Do to Protect Source Water


What is Source Water Protection?
Source Water Protection (SWP) is the active approach to protecting, maintaining and safeguarding source water—the source of drinking water and what comes out of our faucets. Source water is typically groundwater or surface water, such as streams and rivers.

Drawing from a high quality source for drinking water is just step one in ensuring the water coming out of your faucet is drinkable. SWP is for the present and the future, and a plan considers today, tomorrow and well into the future for the quality and quantity of water.

What are the threats to source water?
Pollution ranges from sources that we are largely removed from, such as industrial manufacturing processes and oil and gas, to the farming of our food and to our household decisions and their connection to stormwater. Regardless of a defined source water area, our actions at the biggest level to the smallest can all negatively impact source water.

Source: Wabash Valley LEAFlet
What is the SWP process?
Here is a snapshot of the steps taken to develop a SWP plan, as outlined by the EPA.
  1. Delineate
  2. Inventory
  3. Determine the susceptibility
  4. Notify and involve the public
  5. Implement management strategies
  6. Develop contingency plans
There are very clear threats to water quality: industrial discharges, chemical spills, oil and gas operations, but equally challenging are the pollution sources that do not come from a specific operation, such as stormwater.


What can a community do?
  • Tighten local ordinances to reflect environmental values, such as expanding floodplain and riparian buffer minimums.
  • Implement ‘Good Housekeeping’ standards, such as proper storage of road salt and all other municipal operations.
  • Transition unused mowed areas to trees, shrubs and meadows.
  • Install green infrastructure when possible.
What can the agricultural community do?
Agriculture—both crops and livestock—contribute nutrient pollution waterways in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.

Protect waterways on the property by creating:
  • Livestock fencing along streams
  • Riparian buffers
Use best management practices to reduce or eliminate runoff from farm fields and livestock areas
  • Continuous no-till crops
  • Nutrient management plans
  • Cover crops
What can the business community do?
  • Share information about materials onsite and operations.
  • Follow all industry regulations and best management practices when responding to a spill.
  • Share spills immediately with authorities.
What can you do?
  • Clean up after your dog. Dog waste contains billions of bacteria.
  • Transition unused mowed areas to trees, shrubs and meadows.
  • Keep chemicals, soaps, and debris out of the storm sewer system.
  • Consider using more natural cleaning alternatives and personal care products in the home.
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals.
  • Join a watershed group and/or volunteer in events focused on water quality like litter cleanups, water quality monitoring and tree plantings.
  • Reduce or eliminate the amount of fertilizers and pesticides used on your property.
  • Tell a friend, neighbor, family member, coworker, anyone and everyone.