Sourcewater Protection Program

The Source Water Protection program helps communities to develop source water protection plans. These plans guide water utilities through the process of identifying potential threats to public drinking water and water utility facilities and outline plans of action in advance of problems. We will work with any system interested in protecting their groundwater supply. There is no charge for the services provided.

Request information here and let us know what you are already doing for Source Water Protection so we can better help you. Download and complete our SWAP-Assist questionnaire in PDF or MS Word format. Email the completed questionnaire or fax to 814-353-9341.


Sourcewater protection safeguards water used to supply public drinking water and private wells and springs for human consumption. Examples include water from underground aquifers, springs, lakes, rivers, or streams. Before traveling to the tap, water typically needs some level of treatment. This can become costly to water suppliers and their communities. Source water protection goes beyond treatment to ensure safe drinking water begins at the water source itself. It considers a preventative and comprehensive approach, taking into account quality and quantity of untreated water and thus ensuring the protection of environmental and community resources in addition to public health and safety.

Planning to protect drinking water sources helps communities reduce contamination and shortages. Many contaminants prove difficult and costly, or impossible, to treat. As a finite resource, when we run out of clean fresh water, we will have access to no more for human consumption, making it vital to protect and conserve as a resource. The basis of this type of planning seeks to provide an adequate supply of clean water for generations to come.


The PRWA Source Water Protection program is securely built upon the PaDEP Wellhead Protection Program and the USDA Source Water Protection Program.


The Wellhead Protection Program was put into effect by the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. PRWA works with communities to protect the areas surrounding the community wells that supply water to the public drinking water system. Ground water/wellhead protection is the responsibility of all levels of government, but the foremost responsibility for this protection is at the local government level.

It has been proven that ground water is very difficult to clean up after contamination and in many cases is impossible to clean up. Protection of your groundwater source does not guarantee that your groundwater source will never be contaminated, but will definitely reduce the risk associated with contamination. Wellhead protection is less costly and takes less time than trying to clean up after contamination occurs.

PRWA will work with any system interested in protecting their groundwater supply. There is no charge for the PRWA services provided. The Groundwater Technician will need participation from water system personnel and community officials. Without participation a good wellhead protection plan will not be achieved. The first four steps of a groundwater/wellhead protection plan are not difficult and can be completed within a few months.

The system's responsibility to review and upgrade the plan as needed will be an ongoing process. We stress cooperation with industry, business and the agricultural community. If possible, we ask that they be approached to participate in the formulation of the plan.

In the following pages you will also find"Appendix A" from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. These pages outline the minimum elements for a PA DEP approvable Wellhead Protection Plan. The PRWA Technician will assist you in developing a Plan that follows these recommendations. Please, read these pages, as the committee is responsible for all recordkeeping.

A summary of the program details and steps to implement a source water protection plan are found here.


The Source Water Protection program expands our technical assistance in source water protection to include developing protection plans for surface water systems. The goal of the program is to assist communities served by public water systems with highly or moderately susceptible drinking water sources to reduce or eliminate the potential risks to drinking water supplies through the development of Source Water Protection Plans and providing assistance to entities for the implementation of contaminant preventative measures. PRWA Source Water Specialists are responsible for implementing source water protection measures in a minimum of 6 different source water protection areas annually.


PRWA with assistance from PaDEP has developed a template for source water protection plans for drinking water, whether ground or surface water sources. If completed properly, the template is designed to meet all the PA DEP guidelines for approval of a local source water protection plan. Anyone may use and modify this template free of charge, provided that proper credit is given to PRWA in the report and the paragraph entitled "Acknowledgments" remains in all copies, reports and plans. Links to our templates can be found to the right, or in the resources.

Call us at 800-653-7792 or click here to contact us online with any questions.