Information Sheet for Upstate New York
To emphasize the protection of surface and ground water sources used for public drinking water, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1996. The amendments require each state to develop a Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) to complete assessments of sources of public drinking water and make the assessments available to the public. In New York State, the New York State Department of Health is implementing the Source Water Assessment Program. It was developed with input from other government agencies and private and public interests. The New York State Department of Health's Bureau of Public Water Supply Protection is responsible for ensuring that source water assessments are completed for all of New York's public water systems. The Source Water Assessment Program is being implemented through May 2003.
What is a Source Water Assessment
A source water assessment provides information on the potential contaminant threats to public drinking water sources. Each source water assessment will:
- determine where water used for public drinking water comes from (delineate the source areas);
- inventory potential sources of contamination that may impact public drinking water sources (contaminant source inventory); and
- assess the likelihood of a source water area becoming contaminated (susceptibility analysis).
The New York State Department of Health's Bureau of Public Water Supply Protection is responsible for ensuring that source water assessments are completed for all of New York's public water systems. New York's Source Water Assessment Program will provide information to direct local and state efforts to protect public drinking water sources. The information will also assist the State in overseeing public water systems.
The Source Water Assessment Program will seek to:
- maximize use of existing information;
- emphasize the use of a statewide geographic information system (GIS); and
- emphasize state-local partnerships.
New York's Source Water Assessment Program to Date
The New York State Department of Health began the process of developing their source water assessment program by meeting with representatives of the water industry, agriculture, consumer advocates, public health, and federal, state and local agencies to solicit ideas. In addition, work groups were established to discuss technical issues and a source water protection coordinating committee was established to oversee the program's development. New York's Source Water Assessment Program plan was submitted to the Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency approved the plan.
The Department of Health has initiated several activities to implement the Source Water Assessment Program plan, including working with local health departments to compile and update water quality data and other information about public water systems that will be evaluated as part of the source water assessment process.
The NYSDOH awarded a contract to URS Corporation to complete source water assessment work for public water systems that use wells and have not already completed a source water assessment in upstate New York. This work covers 8,400 public water systems with 12,300 wells and will be completed by March 2003. The Department will work with local health departments to review the assessments and assist in preparation of assessment summaries, which will be made available to the public through the public water supplier.
The Department will complete source water assessments for the approximately 350 surface water sources and springs in New York State. The Department will coordinate the preparation of these assessments with state, regional and local watershed protection efforts. Where possible, this is being done in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Restoration and Protection Action Strategies (WRAPs).
The purpose of the WRAPS program is to develop and/or compile and document a strategy for a watershed which brings together all appropriate agencies and stakeholders to focus support in the form of grant dollars, technical assistance and other resources, and to address the priority water and natural resource needs for that watershed. The WRAPS are an effective process for addressing the protection of drinking water source watersheds, particularly those that extend over several counties.
The support and involvement of people who live and work in watershed or aquifer recharge areas is critical to effectively protect public drinking water supplies. The Department of Health encourages local government, public water suppliers, and local, state and federal agencies and groups that work with them, to be involved with local source water protection.
Groups involved with the Source Water Assessment Program include:
- Association of Towns;
- Conference of Mayors;
- New York Planning Federation;
- New York Rural Water Association;
- American Water Works Association;
- NYS Association of Regional Councils;
- NYS Department of State; and
- Rural Development Council.
For More Information
For more information about the Source Water Assessment Program please contact:Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Water Supply Protection
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1110
Albany, New York 12237
Copies of the final Source Water Assessment Program plan, fact sheets and other information are available through this site.