Water Quality Division: Safe Drinking Water: Source Water Assessment and Protection

Based on a Safe Drinking Water Act mandate, ADEQ evaluated each water source used by public water systems in Arizona. These evaluations assessed the hydrogeology of drinking water sources to determine the quality of groundwater being drawn into wells, evaluated the watersheds supplying surface water, and surveyed land use activities occurring near drinking water sources.

This information is now used to determine the degree to which a public drinking water source is protected from, or at risk of, contamination. It is also used to assist local communities in implementing source water protection measures.

Adjacent land uses within a specified proximity to a drinking water source, or the designated source water assessment area, can now be evaluated by ADEQ to determine if they are in fact posing a contamination risk. ADEQ has compliance information (occurrence data) on all public water systems in Arizona as well as many of the land uses found within drinking water source water assessment areas.

Because of this customized approach in studying each individual system, the source water assessment reports allow for better protection of drinking water and allow ADEQ to tailor monitoring requirements specific to each system where appropriate. For example, if a water system has no history of contamination by a particular chemical, as well as no potential for future contamination (based on land use practices and the risk they might pose to water sources), then monitoring relief or reduced monitoring for that chemical may be granted for that system. Another water system with a history of problems or the potential for contamination with the same chemical would still be required to monitor for that substance.

ADEQ is confident that these assessments and the related source water protection activities are instrumental in preserving drinking water safety.

Source Water Protection Program

The Source Water Protection Program is designed to protect drinking water sources from becoming contaminated in the future. The program builds upon the Wellhead Protection Program, which was established by the Safe Drinking Water Act and was designed to protect groundwater supplies being used to provide drinking water to the public through public water systems. The program provides a mechanism through which ADEQ and local communities throughout Arizona can protect both surface and groundwater drinking water sources.

ADEQ administers this program to assist public water systems, local officials, and utilities in developing and implementing plans to protect surface and groundwater resources by actively coordinating local pollution prevention efforts with existing state programs. Support available from ADEQ includes both assistance with program development and technical resources.

The primary benefits to the community for establishing a source water protection program are to help assure reliable, safe sources of drinking water and to reduce costs. Protecting the quality of the drinking water resource can produce significant cost savings by:

  • Reducing the need to develop new drinking water sources and
  • Reducing the costs for treatment of the drinking water to meet acceptable quality standards.

The most successful source water protection programs involve public participation throughout the development of the program. ADEQ is available to provide guidance and technical assistance to the community in developing an effective program. With the emphasis on local public participation and direction during this development phase, the result will be local solutions to local problems.

How can I help protect drinking water?

Using the new information that is now available about drinking water, citizens can learn about the challenges of protecting drinking water quality and also take an active role in protecting drinking water. There are many ways that individuals can get involved.

People can help clean up a local watershed that is the drinking water source for their community. They can also get involved in protection activities around wells to prevent the contamination of the ground water source that provides water to their community or attend public meetings to ensure that the community's need for safe drinking water is considered in making decisions about land use.

People may also wish to participate as the state and water systems make funding decisions. Finally, all consumers can do their part to conserve water and to dispose properly of household chemicals.

For more information about how you can get involved, please contact ADEQ's Source Water Protection section.

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