United States
                  Environmental Protection-        Office of Water       EPA 816-F-97-009
                  Agency                       4606               October 1997

                  Betting Involved in  Protecting
                  Your Community's
                  Source  of Drinking Water
                 .                         ,                                 Protection
Safe Drinking Water is Vital to Communities
       Communities across the United States, from small rural villages to major metropolitan
areas, depend on lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and ground water wells for their sources of drinking
water.  In most areas, these sources of water do not contain levels of pollution that are harmful to
human health, or the water is treated to achieve drinking water quality standards. However, if
existing or new sources of pollution make the water unsafe for drinking water use or more
difficult to treat, hard decisions must be made. For example, a community may have to decide
between building expensive new'or expanded treatment systems and finding an entirely new
source of drinking water.

Source Water Assessment and Protection
       The federal Safe Drinking Water Act's "Source Water Assessment Program" requires
every state to, analyze existing and potential threats to the quality of public drinking water'
supplies.  This analysis delineates the part of the watershed or ground water area that may
contribute pollution to the water supply; identifies the significant potential sources of drinking
water contamination in those areas; and determines the water supply's susceptibility to
contamination 'from those .sources; The process is called ''Source Water Assessment:" Local
communities, working in cooperation with state agencies, can use the information gathered
through the assessment process to create a broader source water protection program to address
current problems and prevent future threats to the quality of their drinking water supplies.

Public Involvement in Source Water Assessment
       The state agency in charge of the Source Water Assessment Program is required to
involve the public to the maximum extent when developing its plan for conducting the 
assessments. For example, a state must hold public meetings throughout its jurisdiction to obtain
comments on its proposed plan and recruit a diverse group of interested people to provide
detailed advice. In addition, the results of the Source Water Assessments for each public water
supply must be made available to the public.
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       The-public must also be given the opportunity to review and comment on a state's annual
plan (titled the Intended Use Plan), which describes how the state intends to use the  federal
money available under the new Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. States will use most of
the money to provide loans to community water systems for new water pipes, treatment plants,
and other construction projects. A portion of the state's federal grant can also be set aside
specifically for conducting Source Water Assessments, acquiring land or easements  to protect

drinking water sources, providing assistance to small communities, and for other uses.  Intended
Use Plans must describe how a state plans to use the set-aside funds as well as the expected
accomplishments that will result.

Opportunities for Involvement in State Decisions
       Many states began developing their Source Water Assessment Program and Intended Use
Plans early in 1997, and many decisions have already been made about priorities and projects for
the first year of this multi-year program. However, funding for Source Water Assessments is
limited. Therefore it is important for groups and individuals who are interested in local surface
water and ground water protection to contact their state agency officials and become involved in
the decisions and activities during 1997 and 1998.

       For further information on your state's Source Water Assessment Program and how to
participate, contact the agency in your state that is managing the program.  Call the EPA
Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 for the phone number and address of your state's
contact. The EPA encourages states to conduct extensive public outreach and involvement
activities-when planning and implementing their Source Water Assessment Programs; however,
each state will design its own public outreach strategy.

Local Volunteer Opportunities
       Source Water Assessment and Protection activities can be ideal projects for retired
seniors, youth groups and others interested in protecting local  lakes, rivers and ground waters
that provide public drinking water. Neighboring communities can also work cooperatively to
protect water supplies that are shared resources.  Contact your state agency, community leaders
and/or local public water supply provider to find out opportunities for local involvement, or to
suggest activities to be pursued through local partnerships.

To Find Out More
       Additional information on state responsibilities for Source Water Assessment activities,
opportunities for local involvement, public participation and other issues can be seen on the EPA
Website at http://vrvvw.epa.gov/OGWDW.  For even more detailed information, call the
Hotline and request a copy of the "State Source Water Assessment and Protection Programs
Guidance." In addition, more details on state use of federal funds for drinking water programs
are contained  in EPA's "Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program Guidelines" that can
also be requested through the Hotline.