Source water is the untreated “raw” water from streams, rivers, lakes, springs, and underground aquifers that serve as sources of a community’s drinking water.

There are two types of source water: surface water and groundwater.

Surface Water is the water that lays on the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers and streams. It can be contaminated by pollution flowing over the land or directly into lakes, rivers and streams. Pollution can also come from the air or from materials that have become deposited in the bottom of the water body. Pennsylvania has more than 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, and over 4,000 lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. Water systems draw surface water into treatment facilities through intake pipes.
Title 25 Chapter 93, of the Pennsylvania Code defines surface waters as “perennial and intermittent streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, wetlands, springs, natural seeps and estuaries.”

Groundwater is the water beneath the Earth’s surface found in the cracks and spaces between soil, sand and rock particles. Groundwater exists below the surface of the earth in two zones, the moisture contained within the soils and the water table. This is the source for the replenishment of rivers and streams, as well as a source of water for public and private wells. Groundwater is replenished through precipitation that infiltrates downward through the soil and rock openings to the water table, commonly known as groundwater recharge.
Surface water and groundwater can be interconnected, with water flowing from one to the other. Groundwater can become contaminated by pollutants that are deposited on the surface soil or underground but it can take much longer for the contamination to reach a well than a surface water intake. For the same reasons it takes longer for contamination to reach a groundwater source it is also much more difficult to fix groundwater contamination problems once they occur. Water systems draw groundwater into their facilities from wells.

CLEAN, SAFE, and RELIABLE DRINKING WATER is fundamental to the viability of any community, and as advanced as today’s treatment technologies are, they are not perfect. Not all contaminants can be removed or treated–and it is often far more costly to treat contaminated water than prevent contamination from occurring in the first place.

What is Source Water Protection?

Source Water Protection (SWP) is a voluntary effort to take action to prevent contaminants from entering public drinking water sources.  The goal of source water protection is to protect both groundwater sources (also called “wellhead protection”) and surface water sources (lakes, streams, rivers) used for drinking water.

PREVENTION: That’s what Source Water Protection is all about Go >>

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