Overview of the Texas Source Water Assessment Project

Fact Sheet 101-00




The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act require, for the first time, that each state prepare a source water assessment for all PWS. Previously, Federal regulations focused on sampling and enforcement with emphasis on the quality of delivered water. These Amendments emphasize the importance of protecting the source water. States are required to determine the drinking-water source, the origin of contaminants monitored or the potential contaminants to be monitored, and the intrinsic susceptibility of the source water. Under the amendments to the Act, States must create SWAP Programs. The programs must include an individual source water assessment for each public water system regulated by the State. These assessments will determine whether an individual drinking water source is susceptible to contamination. During 1997?99, TNRCC and USGS staff met as subject-matter working groups to develop an approach to conducting Source Water Susceptibility Assessments (SWSA) and a draft workplan. The draft workplan was then presented to and reviewed by various stakeholder and technical advisory groups. Comments and suggestions from these groups were considered, and a final workplan was produced and presented to the EPA. After EPA approval, work formally began on the Texas SWAP Project. The project has an expected completion date of September 2002. At that time, initial SWSA of all Texas public water supplies should be complete. Ground-water supplies can be considered susceptible if a possible source of contamination (PSOC) exists in the contributing area for the public-supply well field or spring, the contaminant travel time to the well field or spring is short, and the soil zone, vadose zone, and aquifer-matrix materials are unlikely to adequately attenuate the contaminants associated with the PSOC. In addition, particular types of land use/cover within the contributing area may cause the supply to be deemed more susceptible to contamination. Finally, detection of various classes of constituents in water from wells in the vicinity of a public supply well may indicate susceptibility of the public-supply well even though there may be no identifiable PSOC or land use activity. Surface-water supplies are by nature susceptible to contamination from both point and non-point sources. The degree of susceptibility of a PWS to contamination can vary and is a function of the environmental setting, water and wastewater management practices, and land use/cover within a water supply's contributing watershed area. For example, a PWS intake downstream from extensive urban development may be more susceptible to non-point source contamination than a PWS intake downstream from a forested, relatively undeveloped watershed. Surface-water supplies are also susceptible to contamination from point sources, which may include permitted discharges, as well as accidental spills or other introduction of contaminants.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Overview of the Texas Source Water Assessment Project
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
6 p.
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