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Source water protection is a common-sense approach to guarding public health by protecting drinking water supplies. Ensuring safe and adequate drinking water supplies requires maintaining the quality and availability of present and future water supply sources. In the long run it is less expensive and more protective of public health to prevent contamination than to treat water to meet health standards. Similarly, it is less expensive to protect and maintain existing sources than it is to develop new ones. New contaminants of concern continue to emerge, potentially requiring more costly treatment of source waters if they have not been adequately protected. Effective protection relies on the combined efforts of the federal and state agencies, water suppliers, municipalities, businesses, institutions and communities whose activities have the potential to affect the source.

Public Water Suppliers (PWS) in Kentucky utilize groundwater, spring and surface water resources to produce safe, reliable drinking water.  A Public Water Supplier provides water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances to at least 15 service connections or serves an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year.  A public water system may be publicly or privately owned. Water Supply Protection programs have been developed to ensure that these sources are protected.  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) provides the guidance and framework for these programs.  Kentucky’s programs are administered through the Wellhead Protection Program and Source Water Assessment and Protection Program, respectively.  These programs require water suppliers to delineate the areas contributing to their water sources, determine their susceptibility to contamination, develop strategies to manage potential contaminants and plan for future use. Effective communication and community involvement are essential for source water planning to be successful.

The Division has developed a Story Map to showcase Source Water Protection programs in Kentucky.

The 1986 amendments to the SDWA required states to develop a wellhead protection program to protect public water supplies using groundwater as their water source. Kentucky's Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP) is designed to provide planning assistance for those communities relying on groundwater as their drinking water source.  For assistance or additional information about WHPP, please contact:

WHPP Electronic Forms for Water Systems:


The 1996 amendments to the SDWA outline a comprehensive plan to protect surface water sources used for public drinking water supplies. Kentucky used this guidance to develop the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP) to assist communities relying on surface waters as their drinking water source.  Every public water supplier in Kentucky that uses surface water as a source has completed a SWAPP plan.  DOW works directly with the water systems and Area Development Districts to address necessary plan updates and implementation of management strategies.  

For assistance or additional information please contact Rob Blair (robert.blair@ky.gov) 502-782-6893.

Need assistance funding source water protection activities? 

The Source Water Protection Assistance Program (SWPAP) is designed to help communities fund source water protection projects. These funds, not to exceed $60,000 per project, are only available to PWSs or the entities they serve (e.g. towns, cities, counties, schools).

The US Department of the Interior's AML Program can, under certain limited conditions, provide water to areas impacted by past mining practices.
 
AWWA is a professional association for people in the drinking water industry, providing information and research on water treatment techniques, waterborne contaminants and other services for water professionals. AWWA has a Kentucky/Tennessee Chapter composed of utilities and individuals interested in the supply of public drinking water.
ARC administers federal grants for various projects, including water, in the Appalachian area of the state.
Kentucky’s 15 ADDs are regional planning agencies for local governments. They work with counties and municipalities to develop funding packages, facilitate LPCs, help develop long-range county water supply plans and are responsible for much of the planning required by Senate Bill 409. There is also a “Small Issuer Loan Program” administered by the ADDs.
 
DLG administers the Community Development Block Grant Program, which provides grants for various community development projects, including water and wastewater.
KACo represents county governments generically. KACo sponsors the Peer Review Program in cooperation with KRWA. In addition, water districts are organized under the jurisdiction of county governments. KACo has some limited ability to loan money for water projects.
KIA provides banking functions for a number of infrastructure loan programs, including the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which lends money for wastewater projects, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which lends money for drinking water projects.
 
KLC represents city governments generically. Like KACo, the agency has a limited amount of money it can make available for loans. Most community water systems in the state are city-owned and not regulated by the PSC.
        
KOHP (formerly the Dental Health Program in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services) provides supplemental fluoridation equipment to certain water systems to promote dental health.
KRWA provides on-site technical assistance to its member public water systems and wastewater systems. This assistance can take the form of circuit riders who assist a water system operator in solving operational problems, a leak detection program to help a water system find and correct water losses, assistance in establishing a Wellhead Protection (WHP) program, or other technical assistance.
PSC regulates water districts and water associations for issues relating to rates, service areas and quality of service. The commission has very broad regulatory powers over systems it regulates, but it does not regulate municipal water systems. PSC has the authority to designate service areas for regulated water systems, to order service to areas within the service area, to set rates and to order mergers.
The RCAP provides technical assistance to very small communities (usually serving a population under 500), including assistance for small water systems.
Rural Development Program (RD)
The US Department of Agriculture's RD program funds water projects through both grants and loans. RD money is frequently matched with KIA loans and/or CDBG funds to provide a larger pool of money or lower effective interest rates.