Source Water Planning

What we track

Blue Accounting is sharing the progress and level of consistency among jurisdictions as they implement policies to protect source water and mitigate risks to the environment and public health.

Source water protection planning around the Great Lakes basin

Whether a Great Lake, inland waterbody, or groundwater, approaches to source water protection vary among Great Lakes states and provinces. Despite this variability, a significant number of Great Lakes basin residents benefit from a source water protection plan.

There are 4,490 community water systems (CWS)—public water systems supplying water to the same population year-round—in  the Great Lakes basin. Public water systems provide drinking water through pipes or other constructed conveyances to at least twenty-five people annually. These systems are similar to Municipal Drinking Water Systems in Ontario and Québec.

The following pages indicate whether a system is covered by a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP). SWPPs are action plans of measures to protect or enhance source water. These actions may include conservation, restoration, best management practices, education, and land use regulation to mitigate threats to source water quality and resilience. SWPPs involve the coordination of partners invested in source water protection and operate at different scales, either a statewide or watershed-level plan or one specific to the water supply.

Statewide or watershed protection plans are defined as any plans that detail implementation and management of source water protection for multiple water suppliers. Conversely, dedicated protection plans are plans that were developed for a specific water supply system. Some jurisdictions require dedicated wellhead protection plans for groundwater supplies. Other groundwater and surface water systems may voluntarily develop dedicated protection plans for their supplies.

Why it matters

Nearly 40 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes and groundwater resources of the basin. Understanding threats to our sources of drinking water is a critical first step in mitigating risk.


This data dashboard tracks planning efforts that protect drinking water sources for Great Lakes basin residents. The default extent shows the percentage of county populations served by community water systems that are covered by a source water protection plan. Zoom in to view the protection plan status for individual water systems.
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This table compares source water protection policy and funding indicators.


Jurisdiction implements this indicator

Jurisdiction does not implement this indicator

Jurisdiction partially implements this indicator


SWPP IndicatorIL
Groundwater protection planning is required
Watershed scale protection planning is required
Dedicated protection plans are required at the community water supply scale
Dedicated funding is available to implement plans
Periodic updates to plans are required
In the U.S. for Fiscal Year 2022, State Revolving Fund set-asides were used for source water protection programs