drinking water protection

Overview of Drinking Water Protection in Alaska


Wellhead Protection (WHP) and Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) are national programs funded by EPA designed to help protect and prevent the contamination of our nation's drinking water sources. Both programs have the same goal and mission but were created at different times. The Wellhead Protection was created by the 1986 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and focused exclusively on ground water systems. Ten years later, the 1997 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act created the SWAP program, which extended source water protection to surface water systems and provided funding for States.

The terms Wellhead Protection (WHP) and Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) are often used interchangeably. Some states have chosen to keep the two national programs separate but DEC's Drinking Water Program has chosen to integrate the requirements of the SWAP and WHP into Drinking Water Program under the Drinking Water Protection group.

Under WHP and SWAP, the Drinking Water Program's Drinking Water Protection group is required to complete Source Water Assessment Reports for all public water systems (groundwater and surface water) and promote the development of voluntary Drinking Water Protection Plans for all Community and Non-Community Water Systems.

Drinking Water Protection Phase I: Complete Source Water Assessment (SWA) Reports for active Community and Non-Community Water Systems. The SWA Reports delineate the boundaries of source drinking water, identify risks to contamination, and determine the vulnerability of the source drinking water. Although, Phase I was initially completed in October of 2004, Drinking Water Protection continues to complete SWA Reports for new water sources and revise older reports as needed.

Drinking Water Protection Phase II: Indentifying and promoting the development and implementation of voluntary Drinking Water Protection Plans for Community and Non-Community Water Systems.


Current Activities


  • Delineate Drinking Water Protection Areas (DWPA’s) for regulated public water systems.
  • Field verification of well/intake locations and potential sources of contamination.
  • Maintain a GIS of DWPAs, well locations and potential sources of contamination.
  • Provide publicly accessible web map application to help locate Drinking Water Protection Areas. 
  • Provide the results of the Source Water Assessment Reports completed in Alaska
  • Assists water systems and communities develop Drinking Water Protection Plans.
  • Review and process Monitoring Waivers for Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOCs).
  • Review and comment on proposed permits from various Federal, State, and local agencies that may impact public drinking water sources.
  • Promote Best Management Practices that will minimize the impact to public drinking water sources.
  • Complete Source Water Assessment Reports for new public water sources and revise SWA Reports when/if needed.

Drinking Water Protection Resources, Factsheets and Publications