Iowa Source Water Protection Program

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  Targeted and Non-Targeted programs in order to provide better customer service to our Iowa Community Water Supplies (CWS).


May 1 to 7 as Source Water Protection Week in Iowa

Governor Terry Branstad has declared May 1 to 7 as Source Water Protection Week in Iowa.

Iowa communities are creating source water protection plans, which helps guard the water source – whether an aquifer, lake or river – that they draw their drinking water from. That includes 15 pilot projects across the state working to protect drinking water.

Communities work with the DNR and other partners in the Iowa Source Water Ag Collaborative, which can provide Iowans information and resources to protect their drinking water sources.

In Griswold, a local effort resulted in a source water protection plan that led to installing cover crops in 75 percent of the area surrounding the city’s well. The cover crops will help decrease the risk of nitrate entering Griswold’s drinking water source, and can provide wildlife habitat, reduce erosion and improve soil quality.

“The Source Water Ag Collaborative initiated the creation of Iowa’s first Source Water Protection Week. This will provide an opportunity to celebrate and provide awareness of ongoing SWP partnerships in Iowa,” said Rebecca Ohrtman, SWP Program Coordinator.

Source Water Protection Week in Iowa Proclamation

Source Water Applications
Source Water Tracker - houses SWP plans, Phase 1 assessments, groundwater investigations, contact information, and other SWP efforts that communities have gone through to protect their drinking water.Source Water Tracker

Source Water Mapper - is designed to show spatially, an online version of the community's Phase 1 assessment, including an inventory of wells and contaminants. It lists most major programs and contaminants, with detailed location information throughout the state and links to existing databases.
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 in their drinking water supply. 

A "targeted" community is defined as:

  • Has identified a contaminant(s) that is trending upwardCity of Elliott
  • Nitrates above 5 mg/L and trending upward
  • Shallow alluvial wells that are highly susceptible
  • A willing community with willing stakeholders 

This program offers to: 

  1. Assist in developing a SWP Community Planning Team, who are locally driven.
  2. Coordinates with IDNR’s Contaminated Sites Section staff to conduct 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
Non-Targeted Community Water Supplies

Wellhead Protection

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:
Additional Resources