The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), as the Commonwealth's agency regulating public drinking water, was required by the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to develop a Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP).
The goal of the SWAP is to establish procedures and provide a foundation of support for protecting the Commonwealth's drinking water resources from degradation. This degradation can be the result of residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, waste management, or transportation's: accidental introduction of contaminants; improper land use practices; illegal material handling practices; and other conditions. These conditions and practices can threaten the drinking water resources of the Commonwealth.
The SWAP includes delineating assessment boundaries of a drinking water source, performing an inventory of land use activities, and determining a relative susceptibility of the drinking water source to these activities. The assessment of public drinking water sources is available to waterworks owners and the public.
On November 13, 2008 there were 2,936 active public water systems in Virginia, serving safe drinking water to more than 80% of Virginia's population. Assessments indicate that some drinking water sources have high levels of protection. While other public water systems are not in control of the land use activities in their surrounding areas. The Office of Drinking Water (ODW) encourages public waterworks to purchase land and/or establish conservation easements to increase the protection of vital drinking water resources.
The SWAP has identified future land use development in source water protection areas as a predominant risk to the viability of public waterworks. The ODW has been working with a number of other state agencies to distribute and share SWAP data in an effort to bring more awareness to source water protection areas.
To find out more information about this program, follow the link to Financial and Construction Assistance Programs.
Documents related to the SWAP are available from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Virginia Aquifer Susceptibility (VAS) study, completed by the USGS, involved collecting ground water samples from wells across the Commonwealth. These samples were age dated using a number of different methods. The results of these analyses were used to determine a relative sensitivity of the ground water throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
For a listing of waterworks susceptibility rankings based on evaluations done on February 15, 2006 click here. These evaluations have not been updated and are provided with no claims on the information's suitability for use.