Source Water Assessment Program

Author(s): Warner, J.

The 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act mandated states to develop and implement a Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP). The purpose of this program was to notify Public Water Systems (PWS) and customers regarding the relative susceptibility of their drinking-water supplies to contamination. Congress intended for these susceptibility assessments to encourage efforts that would enhance the protection of PWSs by managing identified potential contaminant sources of concern. In 1998, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) contracted with MDEQ to develop and administer the SWAP in Mississippi. OLWR’s Source Water Assessment Program was designed to identify and properly manage potential contaminant sources in Wellhead Protection Areas from which PWS wells capture their water over a specific period of time. OLWR staff ran countless computer simulations and undertook an extensive data review of Mississippi primary drinking water aquifers in order to come up with meaningful Wellhead Protection Areas and a ranking system was implemented in order to inform PWSs of their relative susceptibility.

Assessments of all public groundwater systems and three of the five public surface water systems operating in the state have been completed. The SWAP reports and corresponding maps of delineated Source Water Protection Areas are available online at the MDEQ website: http://landandwater.deq.ms.gov/swap. OLWR now requires that preliminary assessments of proposed public water supply wells site be performed by MDEQ prior to the issuance of groundwater withdrawal permits. These preliminary assessments allow the suitability of proposed well sites to be screened prior to the drilling and completion of PWS wells. The OLWR staff continues its efforts to protect the drinking water supplies of the 1,200 public water systems operating in the state as part of activities related to the Source Water Assessment/Protection Program. MDEQ is working closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Water Supply Division to assist in the implementation of the EPA’s Groundwater Rule.

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