Source Water Protection

Protecting Drinking Water Starts at the Source


Protecting sources of drinking water is an effective way to reduce risks to public health, instill customer confidence, and control water treatment costs. Addressing water quality concerns at the source also has many other environmental and societal benefits that aren’t seen from treatment alone.

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2021 Summer Webinar Series

Sponsored by: Army Corps of Engineers - NALMS - APMS - AWWA

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Forest - Water Connection 

Protecting Drinking Water at the Source: Working with the USDA Forest Service

What does source water protection involve, and why is it important? The American Water Works Association (AWWA) with assistance from the Forest Service, has put together this brochure to provide a concise overview and suggest ways that utilities can partner with the USDA Forest Service to protect an invaluable natural asset. 

Effect of Forest Cover on Drinking Water Treatment Costs  This report explores this relationship using results from a 2014 survey by AWWA that targeted utilities in forested ecoregions in the United States 

  • Healthy, managed forest provide natural filtration of precipitation and storm runoff, resulting in cleaner water reaching drinking water treatment plants;
  • Having healthy forests in key areas within a watershed can reduce sediment and contaminants reaching drinking water supplies, lowering treatment costs;
  • Maintaining forest cover in key areas of a drinking water source watershed ensures safe, reliable drinking water for current and future generations
  • Healthy watersheds have many benefits including safe and reliable drinking water, forest resiliency, recreation, fish & wildlife, and strong economies and forest markets. 
For more information visit Southeastern Partnership for Forests & Water 

Source Water Protection Justification Toolkit

This toolkit provides information for systems looking to implement source water protection measures for the first time and systems that want to modify or expand existing source water protection programs. As a supplement to this toolkit, a Microsoft PowerPoint template to present the initial business case for investing in source water protection to key decision-makers such as local officials, board of directors, and investors.

Farm Bill

Read press release

AWWA whiteboard animation describes 2018 Farm Bill provisions to protect drinking water sources

Source water protection programs take many forms, such as spill prevention and response planning, stakeholder education, coordination with upstream point source dischargers, and addressing upstream nonpoint sources. 

Although all methods of source water protection are important, two new AWWA resources are built to assist utilities in working with farm conservation programs, which due to the 2018 Farm Bill will now have a much greater reemphasis on source water protection, spending an astonishing $4 billion over the next 10 years to help protect sources of drinking water!

Protecting Source Water - Information for Our Agricultural Partners

Why is source water protection important? Water utilities rely on sustainable sources of water that can be treated to provide reliable, high-quality drinking water. Section 2503 of the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (AIA) identifies, for the first time, source water protection as an explicit goal of agricultural conservation programs. This flyer provides talking points and a call to action for protecting water at the source.


Technical Guidance

  • The complementary guidance document is designed to help small- and medium-sized utilities more effectively communicate on source water protection in their CCRs.


AWWA Standards 

You may also search decades of articles on this or other topics published in the Journal AWWA, Opflow and AWWA Water Science

Sustainable Water Management

The Sustainable Water Management Conference brings together water sector organizations and professionals to discuss all aspects of resilient and efficient water management. Attendees will gain insights into best practices for managing water resources, source water protection, sustainable utility planning, analyzing the costs and benefits of water conservation, and exploring alternative water sources including stormwater and reuse. 


Water Quality and Technology Conference

Water professionals around the world attend the Water Quality Technology Conference & Exposition, the event of the year for providing answers to improve water quality in a continually changing environment. Plan now to attend this important event featuring an unparalleled technical program, extensive networking opportunities, and the latest innovations in water quality technology and services.


AWWA Annual Conference and Exposition 

AWWA's Annual Conference and Exposition is where the most current industry topics, issues, and trends will be discussed. The professional program features subject matter experts covering a range of key water topics to address your challenges.

AWWA Policy Statements

AWWA's policy statements are brief statements on protecting and improving water supply, water quality, management, and the interests of the public and the environment. They are written by consensus, subject to review and comment by AWWA committees, councils, and members. Because they represent AWWA's position on these matters, they are approved by the AWWA Executive Committee of the board of directors.

AWWA Advocacy Priorities

Technical Committee Engagement

AWWA members are recognized globally for their industry expertise and their generosity in sharing that expertise for a better world through better water. AWWA members participate in committee activities, developing conference programs, writing technical manuals, developing standards, creating educational content and contributing to AWWA publications. Committee members primarily interact through conference calls, emails, and face to face meetings at conferences and events. Access more information on volunteering for an AWWA committee.

The following committees are active in addressing source water protection issues:


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