GO

Learn About Source Water

What is Source Water?
The term “source water” refers to untreated water from surface and ground sources. It is the raw water that we use for our source of drinking water. Without a clean source of water, our survival would be severely compromised.

What is source water protection?
Simply put, source water protection means protecting your source of drinking water. Source water protection was founded on the concept that informed citizens, equipped with fundamental knowledge about their drinking water source and the threats to it, will be the most effective advocates for protecting this crucial resource. The idea behind source water protection is that prevention is always preferred to treatment.

Why is source water protection important?
A proactive approach to protecting Idaho’s drinking water is essential to maintaining clean water for current and future generations. Water is constantly moving through the environment. For this reason, pollution of drinking water sources can become widespread and affect people outside of your own community. Sometimes contamination can be so widespread that it is impossible to clean up, or incredibly expensive to do so. By protecting our water now, these negative outcomes can be reduced. We strongly encourage your drinking water utility to create a Source Water Protection Plan as part of its drinking water protection efforts.

What is a Source Water Protection Plan?
A Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) is a management plan that your public water system can create to proactively protect its drinking water source. Once your SWPP is certified through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), your system will be able to enjoy a variety of priceless benefits.

What are the benefits of creating a Source Water Protection Plan?
  • Preservation of a vital resource
  • Protection of public health and safety
  • Reduced risk of contamination in your community
  • Utility savings
  • Coordination with local stakeholders, businesses, government entities, and large water users
  • Community education regarding your utilities and environment
  • Grant eligibility with some agencies
What can IRWA help you with?
Our team of Source Water Specialists is available to provide professional on-site assistance and training to public water systems as they develop and implement a Source Water Protection Plan. Assistance includes:
  • Help in forming a planning team to create the Source Water Protection Plan as a community.
  • Facilitation of the Source Water Protection Plan once it is completed.
  • Source water protection presentations to local officials and the community.
  • Assistance with grant applications for all eligible water systems within Idaho.
  • Education and outreach materials for your system regarding drinking water protection and conservation.
  • Assistance with coordination, communication and collaboration between the community, multi-jurisdictional entities, and local, county, state and federal agencies in the development and implementation of source water protection activities.
  • Public education for your residents, such as presentations at schools, local fairs, and other community events.
  • Representation for your system during all Idaho rule changes that could affect rural source water protection.

Contact Us!

Please contact us if you value a clean, high quality, drinking water supply and would like to work collaboratively with your community to develop an official Source Water Protection Plan.

Adrianna Hummer - ahummer@idahoruralwater.com

Chris Johnson - cjohnson@idahoruralwater.com

Andrew Jensen - ajensen@idahoruralwater.com

Getting Started:

Source Water Protection Simplified
Source Water Protection Diagram
Six Steps to creating a SWPP
Letter for Planning Team Members: Sometimes it can be hard to explain source water protection to your planning team members. Feel free to use this letter as a template to communicate with you team. Have them read it prior to your first meeting.
Contact your County Commissioner: Send a letter to your County Commissioner letting them know that you are working on a SWPP. Having the support of your County can help you gain protection for areas outside your city limits.
Check out the Source Water Assessment for your system! This will show you the protection area maps, susceptibility ranking for your intakes, a list of potential contaminants in your area, and more!

Templates:

Source Water Protection Plan Template
Recertification Template: DEQ requires a certified SWPP to be updated and submitted for recertification every five years. Use this template to get started.
Contingency Plan Template: Part of having a certified SWPP includes planning for water system emergencies. This template will help you identify your most probably threats, and provide an easy-reference table of people and agencies to contact during emergencies.
Potential Contaminant Ranking Matrix: This document will help you prioritize potential threats to your drinking water source.
Matrix Instruction Sheet: Use these instructions to complete the worksheet above. Items to include in the potential contaminant matrix can be found at the SWA online database.
Implementation Schedule Template: Organize your protection activities and strategies using this table.

How to Create A Source Water Protection Plan

Creating a SWPP takes some thought and planning. Review the links below to get an explanation of the process and learn how to get started protecting your drinking water!

Brochures and Flyers

Educating your utility users will save your system money in the long run by keeping your water clean at the source. Mindful behavior in people’s homes and businesses will minimize costly repairs, upgrades, and increases in utility bills due to treatment requirements. The following ideas and brochures are a good place to start.

Taste and Odor Brochure for Public Water Systems: Do your customers complain about the taste or odor of their water, despite your treatment efforts? Sometimes the source of these issues can be in their own home plumbing. Use this brochure to explain taste and odor issues, particularly those associated with hydrogen sulfide.

Simple Backflow Prevention Brochure: Backflow incidents can threaten the health of your water users. This is a simple brochure to explain what backflow is, and how to prevent it.

Cross Connection and Backflow Prevention Explained:This brochure goes more into depth on the dangers of cross connections and the responsibilities of water users.

Source Water Protection Explained: This is a simple brochure that explains source water protection and the benefits of creating a plan.

Understanding Your Public Utilities: This brochure gives a simple overview of water and wastewater utilities, and helps customers understand their bill.

Pet Waste Brochure: This brochure is especially helpful for surface water systems. Citizens need to know the importance of cleaning up after their pets; waste can actually affect the public health more than your realize!

Water Conservation Brochure:This brochure provides some tips for using less water in your home and yard, keeping rates low. It also gives a glimpse into where your money goes when you pay your water bill, and an overview of the water cycle.

Cheap Mailer: What NOT to flush! This is a cheap and effective message for your customers: stop flushing inappropriate items, or your bill could get bigger! There are four to a page so it’s cheap for you to print and include in utility bills.

What Not To Flush: This is a great flyer for public utilities or for municipalities that have private septic tanks. Help protect your wastewater treatment plant, as well as public health and safety, by telling people what not to put down the toilet and drain!

Proper Septic Maintenance: Septic systems can be hazardous to public health and drinking water sources if used improperly or not maintained. Educate septic tank owners on their responsibilities to the community and their family.

Fertilizer Awareness:
This is a simple flyer you can post or mail to make people aware of the dangers of over-fertilizing.

Safe Fertilizer Use:This is another simple flyer to inform people on how to use and store fertilizers responsibly.

Household Hazardous Waste: Hazardous waste items need to be properly disposed of in order to protect our water sources from pollution. Use this brochure to get the message across. Courtesy of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Private Wells Owner’s Maintenance Guide:Idaho is home to many, many private well owners. Even people within close proximity to public utilities may have multiple wells on their property. Private wells pose a risk to your system’s source of drinking water, because they most likely draw from the same aquifer. Private wells need to be properly maintained to protect public health. Distribute this information to private well owners in your area! Courtesy of Idaho Health and Welfare.

Is Your Well Water Safe? Since private wells are not regulated by any agency, it is up to the well owner to ensure the water is safe for consumption. Protect your family’s health; learn if your well water is safe to drink. Courtesy of Idaho Health and Welfare. 

USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form

Water conservation: These posters were created by IRWA’s Source Water Protection Specialist Melinda Norris. They provide good facts on how you can conserve water in your home and yard.

Pollution prevention: These are short documents created by Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality. They provide good facts and suggestions on how to prevent pollution by proper practices at home and in the community. Assessing the risk of potential contaminant sources: These are short documents created by California’s Water Education Foundation. Instructions provide help with filling out the worksheet. Once completed, potential contaminants within source water delineations will have been ranked numerically for their risk to the source water area, drinking water system, and customers.