Public water providers are responsible for providing their customers with clean and safe drinking water. Source water protection plans help water providers protect the quality of their drinking water sources by evaluating the potential contamination risks and identifying programs to minimize the impact from potential chemical and biological contamination. Additionally, source water protection projects can reduce the cost of treatment and reduce the risk of local health impacts from contaminants that cannot be removed through standard treatment.
Most of the source water protection projects in Oregon and Washington have been related to groundwater supply protection or wellhead protection. Our staff have worked on many of these projects since the early 1990s, particularly in Oregon. Additionally, several of our senior personnel participated in the development of the original Oregon wellhead protection rules and guidance. We know that a thorough and effective source water protection plan must (1) consider the relationship between potential contaminant sources and the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the watershed and (2) be flexible enough to respond to, or recognize how to respond to, existing and future land use activities that may impact water quality.
We work collaboratively with our clients to identify priorities and project-specific needs based on risks to the watershed or groundwater system posed by various land use activities. This work has included developing strong political support from the governing board or council and from landowners, business owners, and other public agencies whose support is needed to make the source water protection program truly result in reductions in risk to the water supply.