Source Water Protection
What is Source Water Protection?
Source water refers to water from streams, rivers, lakes or underground aquifers that is used for drinking.
There are three primary parts to Minnesota's Source Water Protection Program:
- Wellhead Protection
- Source Water Assessments
- Protection of Surface Water Intakes
Wellhead Protection is designed to protect public water supply wells. States are required to have wellhead protection programs under the provisions of the 1986 amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. A capture zone for the well (called the wellhead protection area) is designated and a plan is developed and implemented for managing potential contamination sources within the wellhead protection area. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) assigns staff in the Source Water Protection Unit to assist public water suppliers with preparing and implementing wellhead protection plans. MDH administers the state wellhead protection rule Minnesota Rules, Chapter 4720.5100 - 4720.5590 that sets standards for wellhead protection planning.
Source Water Assessments
Source Water Assessments are reports that provide a concise description of the water source - such as a well, lake, or river - used by a public water system and discuss how susceptible that source may be to contamination.
The 1996 amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act require states to produce source water assessments for all their public water systems and to make the results of those assessments available to the public. MDH completed assessments for the over 7,000 public water systems in the state. The types of facilities for which assessments have been completed range from small businesses on their own well to large city water systems using several different water sources.
Assessments are now available to the public. You can search for an assessment either by name of the facility or by county.
Protection of Surface Water Intakes
Protection for surface water intakes is not required, but many of Minnesota's 24 community water supply systems that use surface water have expressed interest in developing protection plans.
The Minnesota Department of Health has convened a work group to help determine how these plans should be prepared and who should approve them. The work group has prepared a guidance document to define Minnesota's approach to source water protection for surface water intakes:
- Recommendations and Guidance Pertaining to the Development and Implementation of Source Water Protection Plans for Public Water Supplies Relying on Surface Waters (PDF: 745 KB/67 pages)
For More Information
For more information about Source Water Protection, contact the Minnesota Department of Health, Source Water Protection Unit at 651-201-4700.
Source Water Protection Links
- Source Water Protection Resources,
Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA)
- Source Water Protection,
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Drinking Water Protection,
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
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