Source Water Protection Program

Grow Zone sign
Source water protection initiatives in Virginia; photos by Roy Soto

About 7.2 million Virginians rely on waterworks for potable water. Protecting the quality of our drinking water sources by preventing and reducing their contamination is one of the best approaches to ensuring the sustainability of our drinking water supply. Hence, waterworks should consider adding source water protection as part of their multi-barrier approach to provide safe drinking water.

The Virginia Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water (VDH-ODW) recognizes that development and implementation of source water protection measures may be achieved in several ways. Therefore, VDH-ODW continues to improve the Source Water Assessment Program.

One improvement has been to amend Virginia’s Source Water Protection Program definitions. The amended definitions introduce an opportunity for waterworks to obtain “substantial implementation” status credits for the completion of source water protection initiatives by direct or indirect partners. Partners may be from local, state, and federal government programs, citizen groups, and the business community. This updated approach to evaluating program success (“substantial implementation” status credits) emphasizes the benefits of collaboration with outside resources; in most cases waterworks alone have limited options to protect their source(s).

VDH-ODW submits annual progress reports to the Environmental Protection Agency about the protection status of community water systems in Virginia. VDH-ODW or its contractors may inquire about the availability of a protection “strategy in-place” and activities that may support “substantial implementation” status during their interactions with community waterworks. A source water protection program annual survey is typically performed from June to August of each year.

Assistance and Funding Opportunities

  • Source Water Protection Plan Development and Implementation Assistance
  • VDH-ODW Source Water Protection Direct Technical Assistance
  • Wellhead Protection Implementation Projects Grants

Guides and References

State Resources:

  • Documents created by Virginia’s Groundwater Protection Steering Committee:
    • Report of the Ad Hoc Wellhead Protection Advisory Committee, 1991
    • Wellhead Protection: A Handbook for Local Governments in Virginia, 1991
    • Wellhead Protection: Case Studies of Six Local Governments in Virginia, 1993
    • Implementing Wellhead Protection: Model Components for Local Governments in Virginia, 1998
    • Wellhead Protection Plan, 2005

External Resources: