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Methods for Local Source Water Protection

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Communities can use an array of different source water protection methods to prevent contamination of their drinking water supplies.

Land use controls

Some management options involve regulations and ordinances, such as prohibiting or restricting land uses that could release contaminants in critical source water areas.  Examples include:

  • Targeted inspections and training in areas where source water protection activities are already regulated by state or local governments
  • Controls to reduce population density or zoning on land uses that pose a risk to source water
  • Prohibitions restrictions on land uses that involve activities that use dangerous substances or on the substances themselves (such as prohibiting gas stations in sensitive ground water areas or restricting the application of pesticides, manure, and sludge)
  • Construction and operating standards, such as operating and maintenance practices or product and waste disposal procedures
  • Requirements that owners and operators of facilities that pose a potential risk to water supplies obtain local permits

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Land acquisition

Purchased land or conservation easements can serve as a protection zone near the drinking water source. Public water systems are eligible for loans from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for this purpose.

Local land trusts, community groups, or others can work cooperatively with local water suppliers to identify properties that qualify for funding or offer their expertise in negotiating acquisitions from willing sellers. Such partnerships can complement the ongoing work of organizations to preserve parts of a watershed or ground water area for other purposes.

  • Trust for Public Land - Source Protection Handbook 

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Public education can increase awareness of threats to drinking water sources, encourage voluntary source water protection, and build support for local initiatives. The first step in a public education effort is to notify businesses and households that they are in a source water protection area.

Drinking water suppliers are required to provide annual reports, called consumer confidence reports, that provide information about source water.  This includes a summary of the results of the state's assessment and information on how to obtain a copy of it. These reports may also inform consumers about protection efforts planned or underway and enlist their support.