Across America, undeveloped lands that protect regional and local drinking water supplies are threatened by population growth and sprawling development. A critical tool for protecting the quality of the nation’s drinking water is land conservation, according to a new handbook released today by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
The Source Protection Handbook: Using Land Conservation to Protect Local Drinking Water Supplies provides local governments, water suppliers and agencies, and community drinking water advocates with the tools to identify source water conservation opportunities, implement funded source water conservation programs, and acquire and protect the lands that will help keep our drinking water clean.
"With all we know about the essential need for a clean and safe drink of water, it is important that our communities protect the sources of that water – from origin to the tap," said Will Rogers, president of TPL. "The conservation of watershed and recharge lands for our drinking water sources puts American communities in the enviable position of lowering treatment costs and protecting public health, often in addition to conserving a beautiful open space for the community to enjoy."
While modern drinking water treatment can reduce most source water contaminants to acceptable levels before water is delivered to consumers, protecting drinking watersheds and recharge lands is emerging as a critical drinking water protection strategy, in part due to often-high costs of treatment.
"Protecting our precious source waters is critical to maintaining a safe and secure drinking water supply," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of AWWA. "Land conservation can be an important component in a water supplier's plan for resource management."
The handbook provides resources to help a community both make the case for land conservation and also go about actually conserving those lands. How-to sections include:
* Understanding your watershed;
* Prioritizing land for protection;
* Building strong partnerships;
* Designing a comprehensive source protection plan;
* Financing the conservation of land;
* Protecting priority parcels; and
* Managing the land.
This new publication also provides best practices and case studies from organizations such as TPL and communities across America.
In making the case for protecting drinking water sources, the report summarizes research about drinking water and public health, the costs of not protecting water sources, and the management of watersheds. The research is thoroughly detailed in a companion report released earlier this year, titled Protecting the Source.
Both The Source Protection Handbook and Protecting the Source can be ordered on the Web at www.tpl.org/publications.