Source Water Protection

Source Water Protection

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.

The toolkit and template are available to AWWA members only, please login for access. 

Farm Bill

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

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New Reports

Two New AWWA Resources

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!

Communicating Source Water Protection Efforts in Consumer Confidence Reports

Outreach to and education of the general public are critical components of source water protection. This targeted literature review examined how utilities of all sizes are currently using their Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) to educate customers about source water protection needs and efforts.

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

Effect of Forest Cover on Drinking Water Treatment Costs Report

The Effect of Forest Cover on Drinking Water Treatment Costs report explores this relationship using results from a 2014 survey by AWWA that targeted utilities in forested ecoregions in the United States. This report was funded by the AWWA Technical & Educational Council and the US Endowment for Forestry & Communities Inc. in conjunction with the US Forest Service and The Cadmus Group.

Essential Resources

AWWA Technical Resources

AWWA Policy Statements

Get Involved

Case Studies

  • Beyond the Source: The Environmental, Economic and Community Benefits of Source Water Protection (HTML, The Nature Conservancy, 2017)
  • The report analyzes the source watersheds of more than 4,000 large cities around the world. It illustrates how nature-based solutions such as reforestation, forest protection, and improved agriculture practices can be implemented at a scale to make a difference in mitigating and adapting to climate change, conserving biodiversity, and contributing to the health and well-being of billions of people.
  • Nature's Return: Investment in Watershed Conservation Yields Significant Cost-Savings for Water Utilities (HTML, Waterworld, 2015)
    The Urban Water Blueprint, a new report by The Nature Conservancy, collected and analyzed three years' worth of data in more than 2,000 watersheds and 530 cities worldwide, revealing the annual costs - and potential cost savings - of watershed conservation at scale.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources (HTML, USEPA, 2014)
    EPA is conducting a study to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources. The scope of the research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing. Available resources include fact sheets, publications, Q&A, and links to related studies.
  • Wildfire Impacts on Water Supplies and the Potential for Mitigation: Workshop Report (PDF, 2.5 MB, Water Research Foundation and Canadian Water Network, 2014)
    Summarizes workshop discussions around knowledge and capability with respect to wildfires, water supplies, and the potential for mitigation of the impacts of wildfire on the provision of safe drinking water. The workshop was scoped with Alberta's needs in mind but the outcomes are equally relevant to many areas in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Effects of Wildfire on Drinking Water Utilities and Best Practices for Wildfire Risk Reduction and Mitigation (PDF, 1.7 MB, Water Research Foundation, 2013) 
    Presents current information on the impacts from wildfires on drinking water utilities and lessons learned and recommendations for future research that were discussed during the Wildfire Readiness and Response Workshop held in Denver, Colo., in April 2013.
  • Watershed Analysis of Dissolved Organic Matter and Control Of Disinfection By-Products (PDF, Water Research Foundation, 2013)
    This project characterized dissolved organic matter (DOM) on a watershed scale such that disinfection by-product (DBP) formation in the drinking water treatment plant and distribution system can be controlled. The research developed a relationship between DOM and DBP formation using DOM fluorescence.
  • Quantifying the Benefits of Water Quality Catchment (Watershed) Management Initiatives (Water Research Foundation, 2012)
    This research presents a framework and supporting toolkit for assessing the benefits of catchment (watershed) management schemes. Specifically it develops an approach for quantifying the benefits; provides structured, step-by-step guidance on undertaking a benefit assessment; offers practical advice and guidance on assessing effectiveness and monetizing resulting benefits; indexes further guidance, resources, and tools; and discusses how the results of the benefit assessment may be used in a cost-effectiveness or cost-benefit analysis.
  • Governance for Source Water Protection in Canada: Synthesis Report (Water Policy and Governance Group, 2012)
     Examines challenges for implementing source water protection in Canada identifies and evaluates possible solutions to these challenges, and identifies future research priorities.
  • Water Challenges and Solutions in First Nations Communities (PDF, Water Policy and Governance Group, 2010)
    Identifies water issues common to the nations represented at a two-day workshop held in Kitchener, Ontario. Key themes identified include capacity, common voice, community water strategy, consultation, jurisdiction, respect and scale.
  • Drinking Water Source Protection Through Effective Use of TMDL Processes (PDF, 2.9 MB,Water Research Foundation, 2010)
    Investigates and reports on successful strategies used by drinking water utilities to protect source waters using the total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulatory process. Also describes and evaluates specific measures that have been used to include drinking water objectives in TMDLs.
  • Land Use and Drinking Water Treatment Costs (PDF, Trust for Public Land, 2008) 
    This white paper brings new data and methodologies to study the impact of the decline of forest cover and the increase of agriculture or urban land cover in a drinking water source drainage area. The report examines both the impact on water quality for this drinking water source as well as drinking water treatment costs.


Links to Related Organizations


  • Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) (Web Application, USEPA, 2016) 
    EPA has developed an online mapping tool to help you find information about drinking water in your community. This user-friendly tool provides answers to questions like: Who supplies my drinking water? Is the source of my drinking water polluted? Are there possible sources of pollution near my drinking water that might be affecting my community's water supply? How can I get involved in protecting sources of drinking water in my community?
  • Agricultural BMP Database Portal  (Downloadable Database, NCGA, 2015)
    A database that will serve as a repository for conservation practices to reduce stormwater runoff from agricultural activities. Database has been developed by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the Water Environment Research Foundation and the United Soybean Board. Released Nov. 19, the database describes practices that reduce pollutant discharges from agricultural sites.
  • Source Water Protection IQ (Quiz, SWEFC, 2014) 
    The primary objective of the Source Water Protection IQ Test is for water systems to evaluate their familiarity with and status of source water protection program. On the basis of the test results, individual water system operators or source water protection coordinator can consult the AWWA Standard G300 and the associated Operational Guide to AWWA Standard G300. 
  • Opportunities to Protect Drinking Water Sources and Advance Watershed Goals Through the Clean Water Act (PDF, ASDWA and USEPA, 2014)
    The toolkit describes a more holistic and coordinated planning and funding approach among clean water and drinking water programs and other public and private partners at the federal, state and local levels, including water and wastewater utilities.
  • Capacity for Watershed Protection Investment Dashboard (UNC-EFC, 2014)
    This interactive tool has been created for water utility managers and other water resource managers to use in considering options for generating local funds for watershed protection. The tool includes a "slider" that can be manipulated to show how much revenue can be generated by raising water rates. It also includes other options such as creating a "watershed fee" through property tax bills instead of the utility bill.
  • Collaboration Toolkit: Protecting Drinking Water Sources Through Agricultural Conservation (Source Water Collaborative, 2014)
    This toolkit provides background information and simple steps to help connect source water stakeholders with USDA NRCS leadership and Conservation Districts at the state and local levels to encourage a collaborative approach to protecting and improving water quality and sources of drinking water.
  • Best Management Practices: Monitoring Guide for Stream Systems (PDF, 2.4 MB, University of Wyoming, 2011)
    This guidance document is intended to help water quality and land managers establish a water quality monitoring program that will demonstrate the effectiveness of agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce nonpoint source pollution from nutrients and sediment in stream data-systems, before the practice is implemented.
  • Best Management Practices: Monitoring Guidance Tools (University of Wyoming, 2011)
    This web page provides agencies, watershed managers and field practitioners with links to a variety of monitoring and guidance tools that are designed to help identify appropriate and effective monitoring strategies to understand and quantify the effectiveness of agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) that address water quality impairments in a watershed.
  • Ontario Drinking Water Source Protection Program (Conservation Ontario, 2010)
    This web page includes a variety of brochures and fact sheets that can be used by water utilities, communities and watershed groups to educate the public and their constituents about source water protection and other water issues.


Search decades of archived articles published in Journal AWWA and Opflow on this and many other related topics.



This operational guide helps utility managers implement the requirements established in AWWA G300 Source Water Protection. It helps them implement and incorporate G300 into everyday utility operations.


This utility management standard describes critical elements for the effective protection of source waters. Source water protection is a highly site-specific process that reflects the inherent diversity of natural waters and the areas from which they are derived.