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Ground Water and Drinking Water

Drinking Water Action Plan: Priority Area 3

Strengthen Source Water Protection and Resilience of Drinking Water Supplies


Energize efforts to protect source water and build resilience to drought and other hazards – by focusing on source water assessments, better leveraging land conservation resources, building collaborative partnerships for watershed protection, developing new tools to assess and manage source water risks, and advancing water efficiency and reclamation efforts.


  • As a nation we are facing growing threats to drinking water sources. These include surface and ground water contamination from industrial and nonpoint sources, potential impacts to underground sources of drinking water from induced seismicity, as well as growing risks to water availability due to overuse, drought and other extreme weather events. 
  • Nutrients and other contaminants from agricultural practices and urban storm water continue to contribute significantly to source water protection challenges.
  • The costs of failure to protect source water quality and assure reliable access to water supplies can be substantial.

Proposed Actions

  • Update and take action on source water assessments. 
  • Develop modern online platforms and GIS tools to facilitate public access to watershed data that are critical to source water protection efforts. 
  • Undertake source water monitoring pilot projects through technical assistance and funding.
  • Support source water protection through expanded, watershed-based approaches, including collaborative approaches to source water protection between programs at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Work with state Clean Water Act (CWA) and SDWA partners to promote greater integration and leveraging of both the clean water and drinking water programs. 
  • Work with key partners to develop a national community resilience initiative to comprehensively address community water resilience challenges (flood, drought, spills, harmful algal blooms, and other hazards). 
  • Promote efforts to increase water efficiency and reuse, such as: the release of a summary of best practices in potable reuse in 2017; Cooperative Agreements among public and private sector entities to evaluate and demonstrate advanced treatment technologies; and water efficiency guidelines to help promote water conservation by state and local governments and utilities.

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