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The term “Source Water” is used to define drinking water in its original environment,
either at the land surface or below the ground, before being treated and distributed by a water system.
The concept of Source Water Protection is that carefully managing the land which drinking water travels through leads to increased natural water quality and better protection of the resource (see diagram above). These protection efforts save the community money through less treatment and less likelihood of well replacement. Also, these efforts will decrease the likelihood of a catastrophe, such as a contaminant spill, taking away your water source.
The Non-Targeted Source Water Protection Program provides initial Source Water Assessments for all Community Water Supplies in Iowa and works with communities that decide to proactively protect their drinking water source, either independently or with the assistance of a contractor. The program strives to protect all public drinking water from contamination, and is divided into three different phases:
Statewide Susceptibility Map - The determination of susceptibility recognizes that certain aquifers are better protected than others. Research has shown that subsurface layers that impede the movement of water, such as clay, till, or shale, can be used to estimate the probability of contaminants entering the aquifer. For this reason the source water program has designated four categories of susceptibility based on the cumulative confining layer thickness above the aquifer.
Confining layer thickness Susceptibility designation:
<25 feet Highly susceptible
25 to 50 feet Susceptible
50 to 100 feet Slightly susceptible
>100 feet Low susceptibility
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 application links at the top right of the page.