Source Water Protection in Idaho
Source water protection is a voluntary effort a community can implement to help prevent contamination of the source water that supplies its public water system. The effort may involve creating a source water (or drinking water) protection plan and implementing regulatory and/or non-regulatory management practices. Preventing contaminants from entering a public water system supply greatly benefits the community by minimizing the problems that can occur from contaminants in the water supply, such as increased health risks to the public, expanded drinking water monitoring requirements, additional water treatment requirements, and expensive environmental cleanup activities.
Source Water Protection Plans
It is recommended that a community develop a written plan to document its source water protection activities and that it use the plan as an informational and educational tool for the public. A source water protection plan outlines the management tools the local committee plans to use to protect drinking water sources. Management tools can apply to existing or future potential contaminant sources and can be either regulatory or non-regulatory.
- Regulatory tools include items such as zoning ordinances, overlay districts, or site plan review requirements.
- Non-regulatory tools include items such as educational or pollution prevention activities and implementation of Best Management Practices.
Every plan should include a public education and information component as well.
A community can gain official recognition for its source water protection plan by pursuing state certification through DEQ. The certification covers a five-year period, after which re-certification may be pursued.
In addition to the obvious benefit of having a plan to protect drinking water sources, systems with certified source water protection plans are granted additional points when applying for DEQ-administered drinking water grants and loans. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program requires a system to have a current certified source water protection plan in order to receive financial assistance within Idaho.
Source Water Protection Planning Tool
The Source Water Protection Planning Tool assists public water systems in developing a source water protection plan and contingency plan for their water system. The tool gathers information from existing databases, as well as input from user entry to create a planning document.