Source water is the untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes, or groundwater aquifers that are sources of public drinking water. Water from the source undergoes many treatment processes before it reaches the consumer. Protecting your sources of drinking water can reduce the extent and expense of water treatment needed for drinking water. NC's drinking water programs are based on the federal programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Surface Water Protection Planning Rule
On January 1, 2019, a new rule went into effect that mandates source water protection (SWP) planning for all public water supply systems that treat and supply water from surface sources. Prior to rule adoption, SWP planning in NC was voluntary (additional information can be found in the "SWP Planning Brochure" link below). The new and expanded SWP planning model includes proactive activities to identify and reduce the risk of contamination, with additional emphasis on reactive emergency response mechanisms. Although SWP planning does not guarantee the absence of contamination, it is an important step for a utility to assess vulnerabilities and to identify strategies that could better protect public health.
- Source Water Protection Planning Rule (15A NCAC 18C .1305) - Effective April 1, 2020
- SWRRP Certification Form
- Information on Potential Contaminant Source (PCS) Data Sets
Surface Water Protection Program
Surface water refers to the streams, rivers and lakes that are used as sources of public drinking water. In NC, more than 4 million citizens rely on surface water for safe and reliable drinking water. Our state's surface waters face a variety of threats, including agriculture pressures, stormwater runoff, development and emerging contaminants. The NC Surface Water Protection Program serves the state by initiating proactive protection strategies to identify and mitigate these threats. We work in partnership with a variety of other agencies and programs to promote local drinking water protection in local communities all across NC.
- View the SWP Planning Brochure
- SWP Guidance Document
- Approved SWP Plans
North Carolina's Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) provides detailed assessments of all public drinking water intakes in the state. These assessments include a Susceptibility Rating to indicate the relative risk of source contamination. Our SWAP data is readily available to help define environmental priorities and projects that may prevent pollution. We have concise and current reports downloadable from this web page. Any local effort to protect drinking water should begin here.
- Learn more about NC's SWAP
- View the SWAP Brochure
- Source Water Assessment Reports
- Source Water Assessment Mapping Tool
- Original USGS Methodology
- USGS Methodology Update - 2009
Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program
The NC Wellhead Protection (WHP) Program functions to protect groundwater sources of drinking water from contamination. Wellhead protection is simply the protection of all or part of an area surrounding a well from which the groundwater is drawn. The size of this area will vary and depends on a variety of factors, including local geologic and hydrogeologic features. Most communities begin by creating a voluntary Wellhead Protection Plan. These proactive plans identify strategies and concerns unique to each individual location. Our WHP Program staff is prepared to assist your groundwater protection efforts.