State Source Water Protection Report

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State Source Water Protection Report

April 2013

The information compiled in this report is the result of a collaboration among EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, EPA Regions, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and state drinking water programs.
Table of Contents:
I. Introduction to 2013 State Source Water Protection Report 3

II. Catalog of Case Examples 7

1. Measurement and Characterization 8

Subcategory: Targeted Source Water Protection 8


Subcategory: Additional Measurement and Characterization Examples 9


2. State Implementation Strategies 10

CT, KS, Navajo Nation, NM

3. Partnerships, Integration, and Leveraging 12


4. Motivating Local Activity 18

Subcategory: Developing Source Water Protection Plans 18


Subcategory: Local Ordinances 21


Subcategory: Funding Assistance 22


Subcategory: Land Acquisition 24


Subcategory: Outreach, Training, Workshops 25


Subcategory: Use of Multiple Protection Tools 27


5. Managing and Sharing Information 30


6. State Regulatory Programs 32


III. State Profiles 34
Introduction to 2013 State Source Water Protection Report
Purpose and Content of this Report:

This 2013 State Source Water Protection (SWP) Report was developed as an information-sharing tool among states, with assistance from EPA Regions in consultation with their state drinking water programs, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. ASDWA and others have developed several documents describing state source water protection activities,1 but this Report is the first comprehensive collection of program descriptions from all fifty states. This Report was developed to serve as a tool for a variety of audiences and purposes: for state drinking water programs, as a means to share innovative and effective approaches to protecting sources of drinking water; and for EPA, to help the Agency improve its understanding of state SWP programs and help support state and local SWP program implementation.

The Report includes the following elements:

  1. Introduction

  2. Catalog of Case Examples: examples of source water protection efforts from the state profiles, organized using the categories from “ASDWA’s Elements of an Effective State Source Water Protection Program” (see footnote 1).

  3. Individual State Profiles: highlights of SWP program accomplishments; data collection and integration with other programs; and efforts to develop and leverage resources.

The information presented in this Report documents important progress and accomplishments made despite limited resources. Further, it demonstrates the benefits of cross-program coordination, use of authorities, and the importance of developing and sustaining effective partnerships. The challenges are wide-ranging and often require locally developed strategies which are uniquely designed to address a variety of contaminants and sources. It is notable that every state has invested in source water protection and is measuring progress. State levels of investment vary widely and encompass a diverse set of activities. While progress has been made from a national perspective, clearly there is much work yet to be done, for example, to address nonpoint sources of pollution and stormwater impacts on sources of drinking water. The work of states and their partners in this Report presents an important opportunity to build on those efforts. The national Source Water Collaborative (, state collaboratives, and regional or local partnerships also offer opportunities to focus on priority contaminants and source water areas to further our progress. The Report also contains a catalog of the case examples found in the state profiles to allow readers to quickly view state and local source water protection work that might be of particular interest.

Statutory Requirements: Under the 1986 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), states developed wellhead protection programs that provide a structure for water systems using groundwater to protect their drinking water sources from contamination. In the 1996 amendments to the SDWA, the scope of source water protection was expanded to include surface water sources in the development of state Source Water Assessment Programs (SWAP). The SDWA amendments directed states to undertake assessments of each federally regulated public water system. Each assessment contained four tasks:

  1. Delineate source water protection area(s) for each source (well, surface

water intake, and some springs);

  1. Inventory each source water protection area for potential contaminant sources;

  2. Conduct a susceptibility assessment for each drinking water source; and

  3. Make the findings of 1-3 available to the public.

State Assessments: States have fulfilled the SWAP requirements mandated by the 1996 amendments. The process states undertook to delineate the source waters areas, inventory potential sources of contamination, and determine source susceptibility (and the data and information gathered through that process) has proven to be invaluable for states, water systems, and other stakeholders as they develop and implement source water protection strategies to address potential contamination. State assessments typically identified the most threatening contaminants to ground and surface waters and the most prevalent sources of contamination. Some of these sources included agriculture, commercial and industrial, wastewater, transportation, and residential sources. The variety of contaminants and sources show that source water protection programs and strategies need to consist of multiple efforts and activities, in coordination with a variety of entities using targeted approaches, to reduce the risk from priority local and regional threats to drinking water.

Moving from Assessment to Protection Despite Program Constraints: No regulatory mechanisms exist to compel water systems to use the building blocks of the source water assessment to implement a source water protection plan. Nonetheless, source water protection plans are required of water systems in several states and many states work collaboratively with water systems to support voluntary actions on the part of these systems to develop local plans. State SWP program funding and staffing varies considerably among states. The initial SWAPs were supported with dedicated funding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) set-asides and many states continue to use other set-asides to implement SWP activities with dedicated state source water program staff and funding. Other states face political barriers and other obstacles preventing them from fully utilizing these DWSRF set-aside funds (e.g., “competition” between funds for infrastructure and state use of set-asides). Several states have been able to effectively coordinate with Clean Water Act and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs and leverage both funding and activities under those programs.
Many states have updated the assessments and worked collaboratively with other state, federal, and local partners to protect sources of drinking water, based on the information provided from the assessments. This has been the case even though states are not required or provided dedicated funding to update the SWAP assessments (or to develop them for water systems constructed after the initial round of assessments was completed).

Characterizing State Source Water Protection Programs: The 1996 SDWA amendments provided a good deal of flexibility for how states were to develop their SWAP programs. There are a variety of source water assessments and implementation approaches in each of the 50 states and territories – tailored to each state or territory’s unique circumstances. This variety is reflected in the state-by-state summaries in this Report. State SWP programs vary, depending upon a number of factors, including where the state drinking water program is “housed” (i.e., environmental agency or public health agency); available program resources; the particular legislative and regulatory construct for that state program; and the nature of the source water challenges in a particular state (i.e., most prevalent sources and most threatening contaminants). Despite these differences, state SWP programs tend to have some of the following common elements:2

  1. Program elements to measure and characterize the nature of threats to sources of drinking water and to track program effectiveness;

  2. Overarching state source water protection program implementation strategies;

  3. Efforts to sustain partnerships, integrate available information, and leverage federal, other state, and local program authorities and resources;

  4. Approaches to motivating and catalyzing local source water protection program activities;

  5. Approaches for managing and sharing source water data and information; and

  6. State statutes and regulations.

Partnering and Sharing Data to Promote Local Land Use Management and Planning: Developing partnerships and sharing data with other programs is critical to the success of SWP efforts across the nation. In particular, source water protection can be effective when sound land use management and planning approaches are applied to minimize risks to water quality and quantity from existing land uses and future development. Neither state drinking water programs nor public water systems are authorized under the SDWA to plan and manage land use (other than to purchase land for conservation). This disparity between authority and responsibility means that both state agencies and water systems must work collaboratively with state land use agencies, local governments, and landowners to encourage land use and stewardship decisions in consideration of local water quality concerns and local laws and practices -- often involving multiple local government entities with divergent laws and practices for their respective watersheds or ground water protection areas. To help support these efforts, many states developed source water assessment maps in a Geographic Information System (GIS) database format as part of their SWAP, and some are now overlaying these GIS maps with other state, federal, and local entity maps to target funding and resources for projects and regulatory activities. Although this can be a resource intensive undertaking, it has provided a strong foundation to coordinate efforts and promote land use planning and stewardship across local jurisdictions that considers protecting source waters.

Reporting on Progress: EPA has a flexible approach that allows states to set their own state-specific definitions of substantial implementation of source water protection, and allows states to set appropriate targets to reflect progress made in implementing their state-specific approach to source water protection. States may adjust these targets based on changing circumstances. EPA’s Strategic Plan ( addresses protecting drinking water sources. The Protecting America's Waters Goal of the Strategic Plan is to Protect and restore our waters to ensure that drinking water is safe, and that aquatic ecosystems sustain fish, plants, and wildlife, and economic, recreational, and subsistence activities. The 2013 National Program Goal for safe drinking water is for 50% of Community Water Systems and 57% of the population served by Community Water Systems, to have the risk to public health minimized through source water protection.
The following graphs show results for EPA’s National Program Guidance (NPG) Measures:

Source: USEPA Office of Water. National Water Program Guidance Fiscal Year 2007 – 2013, Final Performance Measures and Commitments Appendix.

Catalog of Case Examples

The purpose of the Catalog of Case Examples is to quickly view state and local source water protection work that might be of particular interest. The Catalog categorizes the state examples found in this Report into six Activity Areas. The six Activity Areas are based on a report by the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), “Elements of an Effective State Source Water Protection Program,” (found here) and they provide a framework for understanding state source water protection activities. A description of each Activity Area precedes the case examples in each Activity Area. Where appropriate we have added subcategories to further assist in identifying useful information.

State source water protection program case examples in the Catalog may contain elements of more than one Activity Area, but are grouped by the Activity Area that most appropriately applies. State examples that include more than one element are noted in each of those other activity areas and subcategories to provide a more illustrative picture of state activity in each area. These notations are found at the end of each category section. Also, a number of states have more than one case example.
The Catalog does not fully represent the wide variety of ongoing source water protection activities, but rather it provides a snapshot of the types of work being conducted throughout the states to support source water protection. The six Activity Areas and subcategories are listed in the following Table of Contents. The Table of Contents only shows the primary Activity Area in which each state case example is categorized.

1. Measurement and Characterization
Measurement and characterization of source water protection activities can provide essential data and information needed to inform state decision makers about where to target new activities and how to refine ongoing activities. Measurement and characterization activities link to activities within all of the other categories of a state source water protection program, and can play a key role in developing and sustaining partnerships. Measurement and characterization elements can include keeping assessment information current, evaluating program effectiveness, tracking local source water protection efforts from the state level, and tracking statewide or regional source water protection efforts.
Targeted Source Water Protection

Coordination between the Source Water Protection and Underground Storage Tank Programs:

One of the most significant achievements realized by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ’s) Source Water Protection Program is the coordination of efforts with the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program, resulting in the enhanced protection of the 253 unconfined Public Water Supply (PWS) wells operating in the state. The location of existing storage tanks within PWS delineated protection areas is tracked using the MDEQ geographic information system (GIS). This information is then used to guide compliance efforts or direct proper regulatory response for existing USTs. It also is used to identify new sites that require the installation of double walled USTs. Also, MDEQ and the Health Department are coordinating efforts to plug abandoned water supply wells near operating wells using the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.


Identification of Potential Contaminant Sources in Targeted Protection Areas:

Disinfection Byproducts (DBP) and high Total Organic Content (TOC) are buzz words in the drinking water industry. The Ground Water Management Section (GWMS) has looked at the data from all the drinking water systems using surface water in Tennessee and has compiled a list of drinking water systems and their source water protection areas based on the highest DBP and TOC numbers. The GWMS has contracted with the State’s Division of Geology (DG), to conduct an on the ground survey of the top ten source water protection areas looking specifically for illegal discharges (straight pipes), failing septic systems, and illegal systems. The overarching plan is that if DG can locate and remove these potential sources, then the drinking water systems through their normal data collection should be able to show a reduction in DBP and TOC.


Brandon, VT Community Water System Receives Class II Groundwater Designation:

Brandon Fire District #1 submitted the state’s first petition for a Class II Groundwater reclassification for consideration to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). In December 2011, this Vermont community water system received the Class II Groundwater designation. Class II groundwater applies to groundwater that has been determined by the ANR Secretary to have uniformly excellent character; exposure to activities which may pose a risk to it use as a public water supply; and is in use, or is determined to have a high probability for use, as a public water supply source. After pursuing this reclassification for many years as an existing public community water supply, the Fire District now can provide an enhanced degree of groundwater protection to municipal system customers. Assistance from the Vermont Rural Water Association was essential in the petition process, including land use assessment, hydrogeological mapping, and development of the petition’s text and maps. It is Brandon Fire District #1’s further goal that Brandon can serve as an example in motivating other municipalities to establish Class II Groundwater areas for their existing public community water supplies and for groundwater areas that have a high probability for use as a public water supply, but are not yet developed.

Additional Targeted Source Water Protection Case Examples: Navajo Nation, Arkansas, Utah.
Additional Measurement and Characterization Case Examples

GUDI mapping and investigation project along Oak Creek:

GUDI stands for Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of surface water. Groundwater sources may be suspect GUDI if the well is less than 500 feet from surface water. To investigate well distances to surface water, detailed maps were created for twenty-nine (29) public water systems along Oak Creek showing a 500 foot buffer zone around each well. Two larger maps were also created to show the full extent of Oak Creek and the public water systems nearby. Oak Creek stretches 35 miles starting north of Sedona and winds its way south to the Verde River. Sections of Oak Creek have exceeded water quality standards for E. coli.


City of Colquitt – Identifying the Wellhead Protection Area:

The city of Colquitt is located in the Dougherty Plain of southwest Georgia. The Dougherty Plain is a northeast-southwest oriented, flat plain bound on the northeast by the Fall Line Hills and to the southwest by the Tifton Uplands. Surface soils are sand to clay in composition, ranging from well-drained to poorly-drained. This soil is composed of a mixture of residuum from dissolution of limestone and imported fine sands through fluvial transport. Few surface water streams dissect the area, since there is little run off due to low-grade porous sands. The residuum in the Colquitt area varies in thickness between 50-75 feet and overlies the Ocala limestone. The Ocala limestone is characterized by having a primary and relatively high secondary porosity. Solution channels are common as well as collapse of these structures, resulting in the large number of sinkholes that occur in the vicinity. Large yielding wells can be found signifying the relative abundance and rapid flow characteristics of this aquifer.

The management zone relies more heavily on fractures traces and soil draining properties than calculated data. Since the aquifer is highly transmissive and highly heterogeneous, numerical calculations may greatly underestimate flow velocity and direction. The outer-management zone is therefore much wider and extends further up-gradient than calculated. The down-gradient extent includes surface water divides in the city to the southwest. To the northwest and southeast, fracture traces are included that may direct flow toward the well. To the northeast and east, the up-gradient extent goes to areas that have mappable fracture traces and well draining soils. In addition to an outer-management zone, an additional zone of protection is needed in the Colquitt area. A number of private wells are located within the outer-management zone that potentially allows direct and rapid connection to the aquifer. These areas and their respective drainage basins are included in a “zone of high vulnerability.”

Updating SWAP Potential Sources of Contamination:

In 2010, Drinking Water Program (DWP) introduced an electronic Annual Statistical Report (eASR) that replaced paper reporting. Electronic reporting saves staff time, paper, mailing costs, and other resources for both public water suppliers and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The new eASR allows public water suppliers the opportunity to update information on the potential sources of contamination that were identified in their water supply protection areas during the SWAP Program. The updated SWAP information is then migrated to DWP’s database. DWP is in the process of reviewing the extent of water supplier participation in the voluntary update of their SWAP information.


New PWS Source Review:

One of the highlights of Montana’s Source Water Protection Program is protection of public health by preventing contamination of proposed new drinking water sources. The program reviews the location of all new proposed public drinking water sources to ensure they will not have high susceptibility to significant potential contaminant sources. In 2012, this amounted to about 38 new drinking water source reviews.


Collecting Ambient WQ Data above Drinking Water Intakes:

Due to resource constraints, there is generally a lack of ambient water quality data above drinking water intakes. Using SDWA funds (to provide technical assistance to public water systems), DEQ drinking water and laboratory staff collected samples above drinking water intakes and at wells for 48 public water systems. The project included collecting samples from high-risk drinking water sources and analyzing for over 250 Oregon-specific herbicides, insecticides, pharmaceuticals, VOCs (including cleaners), fire retardants, PAHs, personal care products, and plasticizers. Low levels of contaminants were found in 85% of the samples collected, including microbes, steroids, metals, phthalates, and pesticides. This data supplements ambient river data and groundwater data in DEQ’s public database for water quality. The data will be accessed and used for many other CWA water quality reports and queries, including the EPA Integrated Report for 303(d) listings.

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