Great Lakes Water Authority has developed voluntary Surface Water Intake Protection Plans (SWIPP) for three surface water intakes located in Lake Huron and the Detroit River. The two Detroit River intakes are in urbanized areas with influences from the U.S. and Canada. The Lake Huron intake is situated further from industrial activities and urbanized areas but remains susceptible to the impacts of agricultural and stormwater runoff.

GLWA facility, with Detroit River and Canada in the background. Canadian partners were among key stakeholders in developing the SWIPPs.

  • The Great Lakes Water Authority SWIPPs were approved in March of 2016 and will be updated every six years.
  • SWIPP teams were created for each intake and included local utility member representatives, local health department representatives, the local fire department, U.S. Coast Guard, Canadian stakeholders, Great Lakes Water Authority employees, and watershed groups specific to each intake. Coordinating with a wide range of stakeholders on both sides of the border is critical to protecting source water.
  • GLWA has both a system-wide emergency response plan and individual response plans for each intake. Real-time water quality sensors can provide early detection for potential threats to source water.

What's a SWIPP?

GLWA designed the location of their intakes to reduce impacts of shoreline pollution, but planning for protection from spills and land-based contaminants is imperative. A Source Water Intake Protection Plan builds on information from the (EPA-required) Source Water Assessment by shifting to implementation of source water management measure and planning for risks. The SWIPPs delineate source water protection areas for intakes, identify potential contaminant sources, and describe management practices to protect source water. They also describe public education outreach activities, contingency plans, and emergency response plans.