Source Water Protection
Drinking water, which may be from ground water, surface water, or both, is vulnerable to being contaminated. If the drinking water source is not protected, contamination can cause a community significant expense as well as put people’s health in danger. Cleaning up contamination or finding a new source of drinking water is complicated, costly, and sometimes impossible.
Preventing drinking water contamination at the source makes sense:
- Good Public Health Sense
- Good Economic Sense
- Good Environmental Sense
Good Public Health Sense
When waterborne diseases occur due to contaminated drinking water, the burden of solving the problem falls on the community and the State. Source water contamination prevention is the first barrier to the outbreak of waterborne illnesses. Keeping contaminants out of the source water helps keep them out of the drinking water supply.
Good Economic Sense
In addition, the community and the State bear the economic burden when drinking water sources are contaminated. Not only can wages be lost and medical costs incurred, but alternative water supplies may be required in the short run. Over the long-term, treatment systems may have to be expanded, or a new water source found, to meet new regulatory requirements or to address new contaminant threats. Source water contamination prevention however, can keep such costs in check. Preventing contamination is often cheaper than remedying its effects. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Good Environmental Sense
Water is a renewable resource, but there are limits to its quality and quantity. Land development, polluted runoff from agricultural, commercial, and industrial sites, and aging wastewater infrastructure are examples of what can threaten the quality of drinking water sources. In many areas of the country, ground water is being pumped faster than aquifers are being recharged, and depleted aquifers are causing reduced ground water contributions to surface water flow. Surface water withdrawals are diminishing in-stream flows to the point that habitat, as well as water supply uses, are threatened. Planning and taking actions to protect the drinking water sources can also protect the water resource for a multitude of uses.