Safe Drinking Water Begins at the Source

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Providing protection for water supplies. Source Water Protection has been a growing concern for many municipalities and community water systems. To help protect Pennsylvania’s drinking water, the Department of Environmental Protection created the Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program (SWPTAP). This program provides funding and expertise to develop a Source Water Protection Plan. Community water systems that participate receive free assistance in delineating protection zones, developing strategies for managing the protection areas, and planning for the future.

It is a voluntary program that benefits water systems with groundwater wells, springs, reservoirs, river intakes, or any combination of these water sources.

All types of community water systems are eligible to participate in SWPTAP including municipal, authority, water associations, and investor-owned (private) systems throughout the Commonwealth. With over 400 community water systems participating, this highly successful and effective program is entering its 13th year.

In conjunction with PADEP, SSM assists water systems in developing source water protection plans. Professional geologists and environmental specialists delineate protective zones around each well or surface water intake to show the areas that contribute to the drinking water supply. We engage water supplier and community representatives to identify ways of protecting these areas. Our team identifies potential sources of contamination, develops protective management strategies, plans for emergencies, and identifies new water supply options. Our ultimate goal is to protect the source for future generations.

Speak like a Water Resource Specialist

Now that you’re an expert on the value of water quality - it’s time you sound like one too! Which words do you remember learning in science class?

Aquifer - An aquifer is a layer of rock with openings that allow liquids and gases to pass through. This is how wells work - the openings allow the water to enter into drilled wells underground.

Best Management Practices (BMP) - These are practices that help to decrease negative impacts on water quality. We want everyone to be utilizing BMPs!

Evapotranspiration - This is when moisture is transferred from the earth to the atmosphere through two avenues - evaporation and transpiration.

Infiltration - This activity is when the water that falls saturates into plants and vegetation. As development continues to increase, we need to be more intentional about allowing infiltration to occur.

Potential Sources Of Contamination (PSOC) - This frequently refers to areas in which pose risks to contamination of water sources. Having a database of PSOCs allows water authorities and other relevant parties to have contingency plans in place and to develop barriers and systems to defend against these potential contaminants.

Stormwater Control Measure (SCM) - These are those special defenses against contaminants. SCMs are designed to remove pollutants and control stormwater runoff.

Watershed - A watershed is the entire area of land that feeds one specific body of water. So - any land that goes into the Schuylkill River is that watershed. Why does that matter? Remember how important it is to understand what contaminants are reaching water sources, and how those contaminants are getting there. We use watersheds to do that.