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Protecting Your Source

Many public water systems in Oregon have received a Source Water Assessment and many will also receive an Updated Source Water Assessment developed by the DEQ and OHA drinking water protection team. SWAs and USWAs provide the water systems and communities more detailed information on the watershed or recharge area that supplies their well, spring or intake (the “drinking water source area”) and the risks to water quality within that area.

Public water systems and local communities can use the information in the assessments to voluntarily develop and implement drinking water protection strategies to ensure safe drinking water and minimize future treatment costs. Not only will this add a margin of safety; it will also raise local community awareness of drinking water contamination risks and provide information about how communities and local landowners can help protect their drinking water sources.  

Management strategies by land use

Note: Management strategies for Municipal Land Use (including wastewater, stormwater, golf courses, transportation corridors, etc.) and Agricultural/Forestry Land Uses are currently being updated and will be included in the Groundwater and Surface Water Resource Guides.  

​​​​​​Land use planning by developing a drinking water protection ordinance is one of many tools communities can voluntarily use to safeguard community health and reduce the risk of contamination of water supplies. There are no state or federal regulations requiring communities to protect drinking water, but communities can take their own steps to address this issue.

Protection of Oregon’s drinking water resources is critical to support a growing population and to fuel the state’s continued economic health. Safe drinking water is fundamental to the viability of any community, and the cost of treating contaminated water is extremely high and can be a public relations challenge with new businesses and residents. Communities are encouraged to examine all potential management options (such as education, outreach, incentives, technical assistance and land acquisition) and tailor a protection strategy to meet the specific community needs.

Fact Sheet: Drinking Water Protection Using an Ordinance or Overlay

Model Ordinances

Example Ordinances

​​​​​Everyday activities at our homes have the potential to be a significant source of pollutants to drinking water sources. Improper use, storage, and disposal of household chemicals including cleaners, vehicle maintenance products, pool chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers may impact the drinking water supply. Other potential contaminants from residential areas include nitrates and other waste products from septic systems or animals and petroleum products from heating oil tanks. Stormwater run-off or infiltration may carry contaminants to drinking water supply.

One of the most common ways of reducing the risk from residential areas is to contact owners and renters and encourage them to use voluntary actions for drinking water protection. Contact can be completed through:
  • Individual letters to land owners/operators
  • Bill stuffers/customer mailings
  • One-on-one contact
  • Local media press releases (TV, radio, newspaper - either paid or Public Service Announcements)
  • Educational meetings/workshops/fairs
A sample notification letter to residents and other land owners/operators of their location within your drinking water source area is available.
Best management practices

Best management practices are proven methods that reduce the risk to water quality for residents.

Drinking water protection plans

In Oregon, developing a drinking water protection plan is voluntary. Even if a community elects to not develop a formal protection plan, we encourage the water system to implement drinking water protection strategies. In Oregon, only groundwater drinking water protection plans can be "certified" while surface water protection plans can be “approved” by the state agencies.
Drinking Water Protection Plan Certification Requirement Fact Sheet 

​​Rogue Lea Estates
This small manufactured housing community's management plan addresses refueling of equipment, spill cleanup, and regulatory and non-regulatory measures to reduce risks from high density housing areas.


The City of Maupin water system serves a population of 420 people. Management strategies include installing a drinking water protection area sign, public education, a hazardous waste collection day, a clean business award, and education using the OSU Extension Home-A-Syst program.

Rainbow Mobile Home/R.V. Park

Rainbow park has a variable population of 40-50. Management strategies include an agreement not to spray along a travel corridor, annual inspection and maintenance of septic systems, education, and notification of the local volunteer fire department and the Hazmat coordinator on the location of the Drinking Water Source Area.


The City of Springfield serves approximately 60,000 people in Lane County. Management strategies include a public education program, adoption of a drinking water protection overlay zone, a groundwater monitoring program, enhancing the existing hazardous waste collection program and spill response plan, forming public-private partnerships, implementing a water conservation program, and using property purchase and donation to protect areas.


The City of Hubbard serves approximately 2255 people in Marion County. Management strategies for reducing drinking water contamination risk include educational programs on proper well management and chemical handling, best management practices for equipment repair, fuel storage, and other agricultural practices, recognition programs for agricultural producers and businesses that protect groundwater, a business mentoring program, educational programs for hazardous waste disposal and stormwater management, and best management practices for reducing risk from residential sources.


Coburg's protection plan contains management strategies addressing education of the agricultural, commercial, and residential communities on the need for protection of groundwater. The plan also includes recognition programs for agricultural and commercial businesses that protect groundwater, development of an incentives program that promotes agricultural groundwater stewardship, and investigation of the feasibility of managing stormwater runoff.


The City of Veneta's plan addresses citizen participation in drinking water protection, educational programs, well health and septic system health programs, pollution prevention measures, zoning and regulation strategies, and a water conservation program.

Junction City 

Management strategies include the establishment of a well health education program, education about the proper handling, storage, and application of chemicals, an educational program to decrease risks to groundwater associated with equipment repair facilities and fuel storage, and education for residents, farm operators, businesses, and industry about groundwater contamination risks. The plan also addresses cleanup of contamination sites, proper hazardous waste disposal, stormwater best management practices, and improving emergency preparedness.

City of Po​rtland

The management program was developed and adopted by the cities of Portland, Gresham and Fairview to minimize risks to the Portland Water Bureaus Columbia South Shore Well Field. The well field supplements the Bull Run surface water supply during the summer demand season and is used as an emergency back up supply. Portland Water Bureau serves over 800,000 Oregonians. Management strategies for businesses include adoption of a drinking water protection overlay zone that requires operational and structural improvements to minimize the risk to groundwater. Requirements are triggered by the quantities of chemicals used and apply to both new and existing businesses. Residential and agricultural property owners are also asked to address the potential impacts of their activities to this important groundwater resource by adopting best management practices for the use of household and agricultural chemicals.  

Source water protection workshops


Julie Harvey
Drinking Water Program Coordinator