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Iowa Source Water Protection Program

Iowa Sinkholes

Source Water is a lake, stream, river or aquifer where drinking water is obtained.  

Source Water Protection (SWP) is the act of preventing contaminants from entering public drinking water sources. SWP includes both ground water (wellhead) protection and surface water protection.

The IDNR SWP Program is a voluntary program and is divided into Non-Targeted and Targeted programs in order to provide better customer service to our Iowa Community Water Supplies (CWS).  

Targeted Community Water Supplies

The Source Water Protection Program for Targeted Community Water Supplies works with communities in need of addressing an existing contaminant problem, such as nitrate, in their drinking water supply.  This program offers to:


  1. Assist in developing a SWP Community Planning Team, who are locally driven.
  2. Conducts a groundwater site investigation to determine if contaminant of concern is derived from point source or non-point source and determine groundwater flow path
  3. Assists the local planning team in identifying practices that will effectively decrease risk
  4. Assists local planning team in identifying resources for SWP practice implementation
  5. Supports grant applications for SWP project implementation
  6. Assists in evaluating implementation results over time
  7. Includes a list of 262 Susceptible CWS (listed on the Targeted link)

The groundwater site investigation is conducted by the IDNR’s Contaminated Sites Section staff and reviewed by the IDNR’s SWP Technical Assessment Team.

Information on each of Iowa’s 1,900 public water systems, including wells, production, protection, and history can be found via the “Source Water Tracker” and “Source Water Mapper” applications.

Non-Targeted Community Water Supplies

The Source Water Protection Program for Non-Targeted Community Water Supplies works with all communities in Iowa that are interested in Source Water Protection.  This program:

  1. Provides initial Source Water Assessment Reports (Phase 1) for municipal water supplies
  2. Updates municipal well information for communities to include on the Phase 1 Report
  3. Focuses on CWS that are deemed “low susceptibility” (those with nitrate levels less than 5 mg/L, nitrates not trending upward and a confining layer exists)
  4. Can assist the low risk CWS to review their Phase 1 report and if requested, proceed independently with help from the Source Water Protection Guidebook, Source Water Protection Workbook, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Resources, or with the assistance of an IDNR SWP contractor to develop a Phase 2 SWP Plan

    Wellhead Protection

 Additional Resources

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