Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2) - September Newsletter

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Drinking Water Source Protection Program - September Newsletter

This issue's topics:

  • DWSP2 vs. SWAP
    • What is the Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP)?
    • What is DWSP2 (A Quick Recap)
    • Similarities and Differences
    • Can I use my old SWAP to develop a DWSP2?
    • Participate and Protect Your Drinking Water!


Are these two programs the same? If not, what’s the difference? If we have a SWAP for our community, do we need a DWSP2? In today’s edition, we’ll be answering these questions and others you may have.

What is the Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP)

In 1996, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) required states to evaluate each source of water used by a public water system. This led to the creation of SWAP reports, by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) and a contractor. A source water assessment provides information on the potential contaminant threats to public drinking water sources. Each source water assessment:
  • determined where water used for public drinking water comes from (delineate the source areas);
  • inventoried potential sources of contamination that may impact public drinking water sources (contaminant source inventory); and
  • assessed the likelihood of a source water area becoming contaminated (susceptibility analysis).
While the program offered a bold, top-down, statewide assessment of public water supplies, it did not lead to a high degree of source water protection planning and implementation efforts at the local level. That’s where DWSP2 picks up the ball!
See https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/swap.htm for full details of the SWAP program.

What is the Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2)? (A Quick Recap)

Fast forward to 2017, DEC and DOH partnered to develop the Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2). As you may recall, the goal of this program is to help municipalities develop and implement a long-term plan to protect their source(s) of drinking water. Implementation is one of the key differences between SWAP and DWSP2, but that isn’t the only one. We will discuss similarities and differences between the two programs below.  
To truly have this be a community-led program, municipalities are put in the driver’s seat to create a protection program that is unique to their source(s) of drinking water. 
This doesn’t mean they need to do this on their own. While this is a grassroots approach, DWSP2 has a number of resources and technical assistance providers available to aid municipalities as they develop their own protection program. Take a look at our DWSP2 webpage to learn more. 

Similarities and Differences:

As you may have guessed from the program descriptions above, DWSP2 and SWAP are not the same. While they may have a few similarities, with changing priorities DWSP2 has expanded on the previous effort to truly become a protection program. Why don’t we break down the similarities and differences between the two: 


Both programs were created to protect New York’s sources of public drinking water. In order to do this, the public water supply needs to be understood. This means that determining where the supply is and what area contributes water to it is a crucial first step under these programs. 
Another key piece of both programs is to map and create a potential contaminant source inventory. This consists of looking at a variety of maps and GIS layers and utilizing local knowledge to inventory sources that may impact the public drinking water source.  
This is where the similarities end between the two programs. To reiterate, the SWAP completed assessments for all public water supplies but did not consider implementation like DWSP2 does. 


While the two programs are meant to protect public drinking water supplies, they are quite different in their approach. The first being how the plans were created. 
As part of the SDWA, DOH created SWAPs for all public water supplies. SWAPs were not created in partnership with the community (a top-down approach). While it was beneficial that all public water supplies received an assessment of their source, communities may have never had a sense of plan ownership. DWSP2 sought to change this by having a grassroots approach. This means DWSP2 plans are created at the community level, with technical assistance if needed. This puts the community in charge of the whole plan. 
Under DWSP2, a diverse stakeholder group at the local level is needed. This doesn’t just mean members of the local government such as the Mayor or Drinking Water Operator, but also representatives from county government, the community, and local businesses. By having a diverse stakeholder group, the community can consider all avenues as they pertain to source water protection.
With a diverse stakeholder group, it is important to get a thorough overview of the water system. Lucky for the community, DWSP2 includes a form for the community to utilize for their water system which will help aid them as they consider implementation strategies later on. 
While the SWAP program did not include such a form, it did complete a source water susceptibility analysis. The source water susceptibility analysis assessed the likelihood of a source water area becoming contaminated. While this approach was good in theory, the SWAP reports did not necessarily address how communities should interpret the susceptibility analyses of their source water(s) nor did they provide information on best management practices to address potential contaminants. This is one of the main reasons why DWSP2 focuses heavily on plan implementation, and lets communities decide where to focus their resources. 
So what about the key difference between SWAP and DWSP2? You probably already guessed it from the previous sections: Implementation. To have these plans truly be a resource for the communities, DWSP2 focuses on implementation of the DWSP2 plan. This includes identifying protection and management methods, creating an implementation timeline, and identifying a plan management team to keep the DWSP2 plan on track and updated over time. This will allow the plan to be a true resource for the community as they work to protect their source of public drinking water now and in the future. 

Can I Use My Old SWAP to Develop a DWSP2?

The SWAP report can be used to familiarize people with the public water supply. It may be helpful while working on certain DWSP2 components such as Develop an Overview of the Water System, Prepare a Drinking Water Source Protection Map, and Create a Potential Contaminant Source Inventory. Only relevant information should be pulled from the SWAP report when developing components of your DWSP2 Plan. 
While the SWAP report may be one place to start, it is important to keep in mind the information in the SWAP report is likely out of date. You may be thinking, how could my drinking water supply have changed since its last assessment? For starters, SWAP was completed for systems over 20+ years ago. While your source water may not have changed, it is very likely the area surrounding your supply has. For example, since the SWAP report was written, your community may have more residential and commercial development. This would mean there are new potential contaminant sources that are not considered in the SWAP inventory. If the source is not included in the inventory, how can the community implement protection or management methods to protect the public water supply from that source?
Other items that may have changed include:
  • sources used for public drinking water;
  • amount of water pumped from public water supply wells;
  • water quality; and
  • potential contaminant sources

Participate and Protect Your Drinking Water!

What are some benefits of protecting your public drinking water through DWSP2?
  • Protect public health by preventing pollutants from entering a drinking water supply.
  • Avoid preventable drinking water treatment costs.
  • Increase community confidence in their local public drinking water.
  • Create long-lasting partnerships that support implementation.
  • Utilize a broad array of existing funding sources to aid with project implementation costs.
If one or all of these benefits catch your eye, visit our DWSP2 webpage for the many publicly available resources to protect your drinking water supply. To recap, you will find:
  • Framework: A working draft communities can use to develop their DWSP2 plan
  • Data Summary: A tool to summarize data gathered throughout the planning process using the DWSP2 Framework
  • Plan Template: A template for writing a DWSP2 Plan. This can be used in conjunction with the Data Summary to create a DWSP2 Plan. 
Wait! What if my community reviews these resources but still needs help? Communities interested in receiving free technical assistance for creating a DWSP2 plan can reach out to us at source.water@dec.ny.gov

Share Your Thoughts

Have you begun this process? Or, do you have a program or are aware of a program relevant to source water? Send in any helpful hints or information at source.water@dec.ny.gov and we may highlight them!

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