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Source Water Assessment and Protection: What's the Connection?

Explains the important interconnections between these two aspects of protecting community water supplies.

All states are required by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments to assess the susceptibility of public drinking water sources. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) provided the results of the assessments to each public water supply (PWS) by May 2003. These comprehensive Source Water Suceptibility Assessments (SWSA) represent years of research, analysis, and investigation by state officials, trade organizations, federal, state and local agencies, and water service providers. The assessments contain information specific to each PWS, its source waters, and areas of concern which may impact source waters. The information will enhance the ability of a PWS to protect its source waters and ensure their continued reliability.

The TCEQ administers the Source Water Protection (SWP) program, which allows each PWS to take an active role in maintaining drinking water quality. The SWAP team provides SWP services at no charge. Because the SWP program is voluntary, participants have a wide degree of latitude in creating their programs. Most SWP participants have implemented their programs by working cooperatively with community members and via public education.

The SWAP program identifies which water sources are susceptible to chemical constituents. Additionally, the SWAP program provides PWSs with the basic tools to prevent contamination from occurring in the first place. If the SWSA demonstrates that a PWS is not susceptible to a specific chemical, the TCEQ may issue a monitoring waiver, thereby saving the PWS money.

A PWS needing help in implementing a SWP program has a number of choices for assistance. The Drinking Water Inventory and Protection (DWIP) team assists systems that are implementing SWP programs. PWSs may either contract to private consultants or implement their own SWP program. A TCEQ SWP guidance document is also available.

Funding for the purpose of implementing a SWP program is available through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). These funds may be used to implement SWP best management practices including land acquisition. Funds are available as low interest loans through the Texas Water Development Board. DWSRF information

For more information on the Source Water Protection Program, contact the DWIP team.