As National Source Water Protection Week comes to a close, the Drinking Water Protection staff at DEQ hopes more folks are aware of what we mean by the phrase source water protection. It is the core of our work, but it might not mean much to those outside our agency. As with many fields, the internal lingo often can be mysterious. In this case it’s not complicated. The place where one’s drinking water originates is its source area.
Much like recycling and carpooling, protecting our source water should be something we all strive to do.
This area can be:
- Surface water like a river or stream
- Groundwater (also called an aquifer)
- A combination of both of these
There are different ways we can all work to protect our source areas. The strategies we use depend on the surrounding land uses and the source of the water. Our drinking water is treated by professionals, so we usually don’t worry about it – by the time we turn on the faucet, the water is safe to drink. But if we can keep it clean at its source, it is easier and cheaper to treat.
Wherever you live and whatever your source is, clean drinking water starts with good stewardship and DEQ encourages you to do your best to protect it.
If you live in the town of Roseburg, for example, your drinking water source is the North Umpqua River. The source area for your drinking water includes the river and the land around it upstream of where the water is collected to be piped to your home. Or perhaps you’re in a subdivision outside of town, in that case, your water may come from a groundwater source that is right under your feet. Or you could be hooked into the nearest municipal source a town or two over. It may not be clear at first, but there is an easy way to figure it out.
The first step would be to look at your water bill. If you don’t have a water bill, you can ask your landlord. If you live in a rural location and have no water bill, you may be using a private domestic well. In all of these cases, the important thing to remember is that what we do on the land impacts the water. If your water comes from a groundwater aquifer, anything spilled or left on the surface above it has the potential to sink into the ground and contaminate it. Likewise for surface water sources, things we don’t want to drink that may be in the river or near it have a chance to make it into the pipe.
Much like recycling and carpooling, protecting our source water should be something we all strive to do. Wherever you live and whatever your source is, clean drinking water starts with good stewardship and DEQ encourages you to do your best to protect it.
Learn more about where your water comes from and how you can help keep it safe and clean. Visit our Protecting Your Source webpage.
By Tessa Edelen, drinking water protection specialist