PA’s Source Water Protection Program consists of two components, ASSESSMENT and PROTECTION components. DEP provides resources to help water suppliers develop and establish a program that suits their community needs.

The Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP) was created by Congress as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. The goal of the Program is to better protect the resources used for public drinking water supply by providing local and state governments, and the public more information about those resources.  Congress gave each state the responsibility for accomplishing a variety of tasks which share the common goal of better protecting our public drinking water.

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996 required each state to develop a Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) program to assess the drinking water sources that serve public water systems for their susceptibility to pollution and to use this information as a basis for building voluntary, community-based multi-barrier approaches to prevent drinking water contamination. The requirements for the SWAP program were adopted by PADEP as regulations (Title 25, Chapter 109).

Source Water Assessment

Source Water Assessments are reports that provide a concise description of the water source used by a public water system, such as a well, lake, stream or river, and discuss
how susceptible that source may be to contamination. A Source Water Assessment for each public water supply source is  mandatory under the 1996 SDWA Amendment.

A Source Water Assessment (SWA) is a project with a finite product. SWAs consist of a delineation or map of the contributing land area to the water source, an inventory of existing and potential sources of contamination within the contributing area, and an evaluation of the susceptibility of the drinking water source to contamination. In Pennsylvania, the potential sources of contamination (PSOCs) were ranked on a scale of A to F, with A representing the highest priority risks, and F, the lowest risks.

Completed source water assessments, also known as “SWAP” reports, were required to be made available to the public.  PADEP provided the assessments to water systems, municipalities and local planning agencies. The assessments serve as the basic framework for the next step, developing voluntary local SWP programs. Local SWP programs involve watershed protection for surface-water sources, wellhead protection for ground-water sources, or both, for water systems using combined groundwater and surface water sources.

The Assessment component of the SWAP program was required to:

  1. delineate the boundaries of the areas providing source waters for public water systems, and
  2. identify (to the extent practicable using available data) the origins of regulated and certain unregulated contaminants in the delineated area to determine the susceptibility of public water systems to such contaminants.
Most assessments for PA’s existing water sources were completed in 2005 by PADEP, and provided a very general evaluation of immediate protection areas. To find your system’s assessment, GO HERE >>

Source Water Protection Plan

A Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) is an ongoing program that begins with a planning process and includes specific actions or ‘protection measures’ that are to be implemented by public water systems and communities to ensure the sustainability of drinking water sources. The SWA is often used as a starting point to guide a community in developing and implementing a source water protection plan.

The Source Water Protection Plan is designed to be a living document that can be modified and updated as conditions warrant. The graphic below shows the typical steps for source water protection plans. The two steps shown in green were part of the source water assessment process, mandated under the federal SDWA.

This voluntary Protection effort is designed to be led by the community water system owner/operator with guidance and technical support from PA DEP, along with assistance from local community groups, such as emergency responders, municipal and county officials, farmers, businesses and residents within the protection area, watershed and conservation groups, educators, and others.

PA DEP’s Source Water Protection Technical Assistance Program, known as SWPTAP, helps water suppliers develop and establish local SWP programs. Go >>




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