EPA Source Water Project
The Enabling Source Water Protection project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help integrate state land use and water programs. The project entails assessing state programs and recommending the opportunities to support local communities’ drinking water source protection efforts. The Trust for Public Land, The Smart Growth Leadership Institute, the River Network, and the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (the “Project Team”) selected New Hampshire, Maine and Ohio from the first round of applications; Utah, North Carolina and Oregon for the second round; and New York and Missouri for round three.
More information is available at landuseandwater.org
Program Year One
As the fastest growing state in the Northeast, New Hampshire sought to identify and act upon opportunities to promote sustainable growth while protecting important natural resources. The Project Team worked with state agencies and outside stakeholders to develop a prioritized list of actions that would better align land use and source water protection efforts.
Having identified unplanned development as the primary threat to drinking water quality, the state of Maine passed a law that requires integration of source water protection into a variety of state programs. The Project Team developed a prioritized list of action items that help local governments and state agencies integrate source water protection needs into current programs and activities.
Related to the statewide Balanced Growth Initiative, Ohio sought assistance in identifying and designing state program incentives to support implementation of locally-developed Balanced Growth Plans. The Project Team reviewed the Lake Erie Balanced Growth Pilot program, proposing recommendations to increase the program’s effectiveness as a way to protect drinking water resources. Specific recommendations included streamlining existing permitting programs, re-orienting current funding programs to support balanced growth, and improving support for local government planning activities.
Program Year Two
At the state’s request, the Project Team developed a replicable GIS-based tool for use within a particular drinking water drainage area to identify healthy lands important for conservation of water quality and impaired lands where restoration efforts would help protect water quality. The Project Team worked developed, evaluated and weighted criteria, which involved more than 40 data layers, for each of the goals for the Tualatin Watershed, an important drinking water source for Portland. The end product: a robust model that can be replicated in other Oregon drinking watersheds.
In an effort to increase local water protection relationships that would complement existing state-level partnerships, the Project Team developed recommendations to help the North Carolina Source Water Protection Program (NC-SWP) assist local leaders and officials in initiating and implementing source water protection activities. Recommendations included improving access to relevant state and federal funding programs; offering Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund interest rate reductions for sponsoring source water protection projects; enhancing the NC-SWP website to promote involvement of local organizations in source water protection; and creating incentives to encourage source water protection actions on the part of water suppliers, land developers and local governments.
Utah’s Division of Drinking Water sought guidance from the Project Team to help inform other state agencies of source water protection requirements and identify potential overlap with their own permitting and regulatory decision-making. The Project Team helped the Division determine the best opportunities for inter-agency communication and coordination, and developed recommendations to establish and maintain these relationships. Recommendations highlighted strategies around sharing information about the location of source water protection areas and potential source water quality impacts, and working with other state divisions to develop source water protection components.
Program Year Three
The Project Team is currently developing multiple products to help achieve the state’s goal of assisting groups that are developing best management practices for source water protection and land use.
The Department of State is seeking assistance to establish, expand, and institutionalize the state’s interconnected approach to smart growth by integrating land use, water and economic development policy across agencies and disciplines on the state and regional level.