Source water planning

GOAL: Protect sources of drinking water / METRIC: Source water planning

What we track

Blue Accounting is tracking source water protection plans in the region and assessing regional consistency in policies to protect sources of drinking water.

Source water protection planning in the Great Lakes basin

There are 4,489 community water systems — public water systems supplying water to the same population year-round — in the Great Lakes basin. Community water systems provide drinking water through pipes or other constructed conveyances. In Blue Accounting usage, the term community water system is inclusive of the similarly structured municipal drinking water systems in Ontario and Québec. 

The following pages share information on community water systems covered by a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP). SWPPs are action plans to protect or enhance sources of drinking water. These actions may include conservation, watershed restoration and best management practices, education, or land use regulation to mitigate threats to source water quality and resilience. 

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. Complex differences arise across Great Lakes jurisdictions, and Blue Accounting’s Compare feature helps users learn more about those differences.

Why it matters

More than 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 through a SWPP is a critical first step in mitigating risk. 

EPA - Facts and Figures about the Great Lakes EPA - Basic Information about Source Water Protection EPA - Information about Public Water Systems  Additional input provided by members of the Drinking Water work group (December 2022).  

This data dashboard tracks planning efforts that protect public 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.
View Full Screen Map


US EPA Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS); Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks; Québec Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques; Additional input provided by members of the Drinking Water work group (December 2022).

This table compares program components of source water protection policy across the Great Lakes jurisdictions. As of November 2022, work continues to incorporate policy components from Ontario and Québec into this matrix.

Click the state abbreviations in the table header or any individual circle within the table to view state-specific details about the status of the program components.

Program ComponentIL
Community water systems are required to implement source water protection plans
Community water systems are encouraged to implement source water protection plans
Funding is available to implement plans
Periodic updates to plans are required

For FY 2022, the State Revolving Fund program utilized set-aside funding for source water protection programs
Monitoring sources of drinking water accessed through private wells is required

Funding is available to mitigate compromised sources of drinking water accessed through private wells


Jurisdiction implements this program component
Jurisdiction does not implement this program component
Jurisdiction partially implements this program component

Information provided by members of the Drinking Water work group (December 2022)