NEIWPCC works with federal, state, and local officials across the Northeast on Source Water Protection.

The Source Water Protection Toolkit, “Protecting Drinking Water Sources in Your Community: Tools for Municipal Officials” (updated Aug. 2023), helps educate, train, and further inform municipal water professionals and passionate community members about information and tools available to manage and protect drinking water supply on a local level. The guide includes several short case studies from local communities and specific strategies for action to protect source water. 

This manual focuses on the following five key areas of vulnerability identified in Northeast state source water assessments:

1. Inadequate local regulations and ordinances

Navigating land use regulation is essential to protecting water supplies. While there are a variety of federal and state requirements and programs that address water quality issues, the day-to-day decisions associated with land use and resource protection are made by municipal officials—planning and zoning board members, conservation commissioners, wetlands commissioners, health officers, town sanitarians, and zoning boards of appeal.

Land use fact sheet

2. Underground storage tanks

Petroleum storage tanks are common across the Northeast and present a threat to the regions drinking water. Leaking fuel storage tanks allow for the release of gasoline and other petroleum products into the soil and groundwater. To address this threat, the identification of abandoned or leaking storage tanks in source protection areas can inform the development of management practices to protect water quality.

Fuel storage fact sheet

For more information see NEIWPCC’s Underground Storage Tanks program.

3. Onsite sewage disposal systems

On-site wastewater treatment systems that are outdated or unmonitored can lead to the introduction of nitrate, nutrients, and microbial contamination to drinking water sources. However, these systems can be managed to protect water resources with proper oversight and requirements for planning, siting, design, installation, operation, monitoring, and maintenance.

Septic systems fact sheet

For more information see NEIWPCC’s Onsite (Decentralized) Wastewater Systems program.

4. Hazardous materials storage

The manufacturing, purchasing, storing, using, generating, and discarding of chemical products and wastes pose varying degrees of risk to human health and the environment. To ensure drinking water is protected, communities must consider the siting and management of hazardous materials in source water protection areas.

Hazardous material fact sheet

5. Stormwater

Urbanization which replaces vegetation with buildings, driveways, parking lots, roads, and sidewalks reduces natural infiltration. This increases stormwater runoff which washes over impervious surfaces and carries pesticides, fertilizers, oils, road salt, litter and other debris, sediment, heavy metals, bacteria, and other pathogenic organisms into drinking water sources. Local governments can combat this effect with management practices that treat or manage runoff quantity and quality and target environmentally sensitive areas.

Stormwater fact sheet

For more information see NEIWPCC’s stormwater program.

Updating the Source Water Protection Toolkit

The toolkit is frequently updated by NEIWPCC to ensure information is accurate and relevant. For more information please contact Ian Dulin.

View the 2004 Source Water Protection Toolkit, “Water Today…Water Tomorrow? Protecting Drinking Water Sources in Your Community.”