Home » Library » Protecting the Source

Protecting the Source

Healthy, functioning watersheds slow surface runoff, increase water infiltration into the soil, naturally filter pollutants, decrease soil erosion, and moderate water quantity by decreasing flooding and recharging groundwater reserves. For every 10% increase in forest cover in a drinking water’s source area, treatment and chemical costs decrease by approximately 20%. This report presents a series of best practices on source protection and gives case studies of communities that have effectively linked land protection, water protection, and water treatment cost savings.

The following five best practices provide a framework for developing and implementing a source protection plan for city planners, government officials, and water suppliers.

  • Understand your watershed: An effective source protection plan is built upon an understanding of your watershed and aquifer recharge are as. Scientific data and watershed analyses are essential to define an effective source protection plan and build public support for its implementation.
  • Use maps and models to prioritize protection: Municipal water supply managers and conservation agencies routinely face questions and problems when choosing where to invest in conservation and restoration strategies. Using maps and models to identify highpriority land for protection and restoration is critical, as funding is always limited and multiple demands are often made upon a valuable piece of land.
  • Build strong partnerships and work watershed-wide: The support and cooperation of a variety of public and private partners will be required to effectively implement a source protection plan, as most communities’ source areas lie partially, if not entirely, outside of their jurisdiction. Effective source water protection can be achieved by influencing others to act on your behalf, utilizing existing initiatives and frameworks, and finding common goals with others.
  • Create a comprehensive source protection plan: Creating a comprehensive source water protection plan is an opportunity to pull together everything learned from analyzing a watershed, assessing the threats to drinking water, mapping high-priority land for protection and restoration, and developing partnerships. Such a plan should incorporate:
    • Strategies for both managing threats and protecting natural resources
    • A combination of voluntary and regulatory strategies
    • A long-term vision, short-term action strategies, and measurable goals
    • A strategy to fund the plan
  • Develop and implement a “funding quilt”: Implementing a comprehensive source water protection plan requires a significant a nd steady stream of funds. Successful communities secure funds from a variety of sources—federal, state, local, and private— creating a “funding quilt.” By tapping into a range of sources, communities can raise and leverage significant amounts of money and avoid reliance on a single revenue stream.