United States
Environmental Protection
Office of Water
April 2000
    O FPA     Drinking Water Quality  in Indian
                    Country:  Protecting  Your Sources
One of the most basic needs of any com-
munity is safe and clean drinking water.
Over 500,000 people rely on the quality of
drinking water provided by approximately
743 community water systems owned by
Tribes. Many Tribes have seen treatment
costs increase over the past decade, and
contaminant threats continue to increase as
old infrastructures, such as septic tanks,
underground gas tanks,  and wastewater
facilities,  deterioriate. In 1998, seven
percent of public water  systems serving
tribal  populations violated health-based
contaminant-related federal  drinking  water

Sometimes the source of drinking water
contamination is something commonly
used and  is not noticed because it may take
years to reach the water supply.  For
example,  the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes  of
the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho discov-
ered high levels of a potentially carcino-
genic  pesticide,  ethylene dibromide, in
                  their ground water source during routine
                  monitoring.  This contamination was the
                  result of standard farm use of pesticides.
                  The contamination was so extensive that
                  the Tribe must bring in safe drinking water
                  from outside the large contaminated area,
                  which required construction of a multi-
                  million dollar water pipeline  system.
                              ID YOU KIMUl
                      Nationwide, more than 80 percent of
                      drinking water systems report having
                      at least one potential source of
                      contamination within two miles of their
                      water intake or well.

                      Only 3,300 out of 55,000 water suppliers
                      use protection measures to lower the risk
                      of source water contamination.
                  WHAT ARE SOME SOLUTIONS?
                  Instead of remediation, added chemical
                  treatment, and investment in new technolo-
                  gies after a contamination event, protecting
                  the source from contamination can be
                  much more cost effective.  If harmful
                  pathogens and chemicals are kept out of
                  the river, lakes, or aquifers that tribes use
                  as drinking water then the risk to human
                  health is  lowered significantly.  This first
                  barrier - source water protection - is not
                  the only barrier to safeguard human health
                  against waterborne contaminant  threats.
                  Yet it is an important first step that can
                  save money and decrease risks to human

                  On average, 30,000 new leaks from
                  underground gasoline storage
                  tanks are reported each year.

A tribal water supply operator should assess
the sources of drinking water and identify
the  potential problems to help determine
what actions are needed to prevent contami-
nation  of the drinking water sources.
        MAP the Source Water
        Protection Area

        INVENTORY Potential
        Contaminant Sources

        ANALYZE and Determine the
        Susceptibility of the Water
        Supply to Contamination

        INFORM the Public
Surface Water Supplied Sources of Drinking
Water (EPA 816-R-97-008) provides infor-
mation on surface water delineation tech-

Step 2: Inventory Potential Contaminant
Sources.  Within the source water protection
area, an inventory of all potential threats
should be conducted.  A contaminant source
inventory  should look for all potential
sources of the regulated substances listed in
the Safe Drinking Water Act and other
substances of concern to the  community.
Common potential sources of contamination
for Tribes are  septic tanks, underground fuel
storage tanks,  residential or commercial
septic systems, farms that apply pesticides
and fertilizers, and abandoned wells.  EPA
Regional Offices have materials to assist
with inventories.
Step 1: Map the Source Water Protection Area
For each ground water well or surface water
intake that supplies drinking water, the
source water protection area is the land area
that could contribute pollutants to the drink-
ing water supply.

For water systems  that use a well, the source
water protection  area is the land that lies
over the part of the aquifer that supplies
water to the well. The EPA Handbook of
Ground Water and Wellhead Protection
(EPA/625/R-94/001) outlines several appro-
priate and affordable methods to identify  this
area for different situations.

For a community that relies on a river, lake
or reservoir, the  source water protection area
is the watershed upstream of the drinking
water intake. A watershed is  the land area
where rain or snow falls and flows over or
through the ground to eventually enter the
stream or lake. State Methods for Delineat-
ing Source Water Protection Areas for
Step 3: Determine the Susceptibility of the
Water Supply to Contamination. The next step
of an assessment is to determine the likeli-
hood that the inventoried contaminants will
impact the water supply.  This susceptibility
determination will  help local decision-
makers, the water supply operator, and
concerned citizens consider priority activities
to undertake for protecting  the source water.
EPA Regional Offices have several examples
     How close are these potential
   contaminant sources to your water
    Gas stations     Abandoned wells
    Septic tanks     Field crops
    Sewer lines      Chemical Storage
       Animal feeding operations

 Attentive management practices can often
 be an alternative to banning activity in
 source water protection areas.

of susceptibility determination approaches
to assist Tribes.

Step 4: Inform the Public
The results of the assessments can help
communities better understand the poten-
tial threats to their water supplies and
identify priority needs for protecting their
source water from contamination. The most
important aspect of an assessment is that it
provides the basic information needed by a
community to plan activities that will lower
the risk of contamination.


Consider Source Water Protection.  Source
water protection is preventing the  pollution
of the waters that serve  as sources of
drinking water. There are a wide array of
activities that tribes have undertaken to
prevent contamination of their drinking
water supplies.  Some examples include:

Oneida Indian Tribe Abandoned Well Ordi-
nance. The Oneida Tribe decided  that an
ordinance prohibiting abandoned wells
within critical areas was important to
prevent contamination of the ground water
resource.  With this ordinance in place, the
tribe's drinking water source is less vulner-
able to contamination by substances that
might drain into the abandoned well holes.
Regulatory approaches,  such as  prohibiting
or restricting land uses that may release
contaminants in critical  source water  areas
are sometimes the best solution.

Hoopa Tribe Public Outreach Campaign.
The Hoopa Tribe sponsored advertisements
and radio programs about drinking water
issues and the need to prevent source  water
contamination.  They also distributed fliers
to inform the community about their water

            THE  PUBLIC:

*   Post on community bulletin boards
*   Write a newspaper article
*   Use local radio programs
*   Announce it at tribal meetings
*   Include information in the water bill
*   Work with schools to educate children

Source water protection relies on
individual responsibility.  If people
don't know, they don't have the
 opportunity to act!
supply and encouraged citizens and businesses
to recycle used oil, limit their use of pesticides,
and participate in watershed  cleanup activities.

Shoalwater Bay Indian  Tribe Assessment and
Monitoring Program   This community is
dealing with a serious  health concern that they
have not been able to attribute to any given
cause.  The community water supplier is
conducting an assessment and ground water
monitoring in  an effort to make sure that the
drinking  water is not at risk of contamination,
and to increase public  trust in the drinking
water supply.

Nez Perce Tribe Wellhead Protection Program.
The Nez Perce Tribe is developing a wellhead
protection program in response to concerns
over increasing levels of nitrates in the deep
aquifer on the Reservation.  They hope to
develop  a collaborative management approach
with community members to address activities
that may be sources of contamination.

Resources For Tribes
Regional Contacts
What Resources are Available for Tribes?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) is firmly committed to protecting
drinking water sources in Indian country,
and will provide technical and  financial
assistance to tribes interested in conducting
source water assessment and protection

EPA Source Water Assessment Financial
Assistance.  Since  1998,  EPA has  set aside
funds specifically for  source water assess-
ment and protection activities in Indian
country.   Some EPA regional offices have
used this funding to support technical
circuit riders to assist  tribes, while other
regional  offices provide grants  directly  to
interested tribes.  As of 2000, funding
continues to be available.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 106 Grants
CWA 106 Funds can be  used for both
water pollution control and ground water
protection activities in Indian country,
including source water protection.

Rural Water Association  Technical Assis-
tance.   As part of a cooperative agreement
with the EPA,  the  National Rural Water
Association continues to offer  technical
assistance to tribes to  implement wellhead
or watershed protection strategies.

For More Information
To learn more  about source water  assess-
ment and protection opportunities, contact
the EPA regional  offices.  Also, more
information is  available on the  U.S. EPA
Office of Ground Water  and  Drinking
Water webpage:
http ://www. epa.gov/safewater/protect/

Or contact the  EPA Safe Drinking Water
Hotline:  1-800-426-4791.
EPA Region I (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VI)
Ted Lavery, Main Unit (CME)
1 Congress Street, Suite 1100 (CCT)
Boston, MA 02114-2023
phone: (617) 918-1683; lavery.ted@epa.gov

EPA Region H (NJ, NY, PR, USVJ)
Stephen Gould, Freshwater Protection Section
290 Broadway, 24th floor
New York, NY  10007-1866
phone: (212) 637-3822; gould.stephen@epa.gov

Alanna Conley, Water Division
100 Alabama St., SW. 15th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303-3104
phone: (404) 562-9443; conley.alanna@epa.gov

EPA Region V (JL, MN, MI, OH, Wl)
Jan Bartlett, GWDW Branch (WG-16J)
77 W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
phone: (312) 886-5438; bartlett.janice@epa.gov

EPA Region VI (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM)
Ken Williams, Drinking Water Section (6WQ-SD)
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202-2733
phone: (214) 665-7129; williams.ken@epa.gov

EPA Region VH (IA, KS, MO, NE)
Stephanie Lindberg, Drinking Water Program
901 North 5th Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
phone: (913) 551-7423; lindberg.stephanie@epa.gov

EPA Region VIE (CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY)
Marcella Hutchinson, Source Water/Ground Water
999 18th St. Ste. 500 (8 EPR-EP)
Denver, CO 80202-2405
phone: (303) 312-6753; hutchinson.marcella@epa.gov

EPA Region IX (AS, AZ, CA, GU, HI, NV)
Lisa Penaska, Ground Water Office
75 Hawthorne, WTR-9
San Francisco, CA 94105
phone: (415) 972-3544; penaska.lisa@epa.gov

EPA Region X (AK, ID, OR, WA)
Jennifer Parker,  Ground Water Protection Unit
1200 Sixth Ave.
Seattle WA 98105
phone: (206) 553-1900; parker.jennifer@epa.gov