Establishing binational consistency regarding source water policies in the U.S. and Canada is paramount to achieve comprehensive protection of drinking water sources in the Great Lakes region. The diagrams below compare the policy approaches taken by each nation toward three key source water protection planning components – source water assessment, surface water intake protection, and wellhead protection.

  • Each tab below contains a diagram representing the policy approaches taken by the Great Lakes states and provinces toward one of three source water protection planning components:
    1. Source water assessment
    2. Surface water intake protection
    3. Wellhead protection
  • Each state or province is represented on the diagram by a different colored dot. The position of these dots shows:
    • Whether a plan is voluntary (left) or mandatory (right)
    • Whether a plan focuses on a specific water supply (bottom) or a watershed containing multiple supplies (top)
    • What percentage of the relevant population is covered by a plan that addresses the selected component (the closer a dot is to the center of the diagram, the higher the population that is covered)
  • Clusters of dots represent consistency across jurisdictions. The optimal scenario for comprehensive, binational source water protection would be represented by all dots clustered near the center of the diagram
  • The tabs below each diagram provide more detailed information on the policy approach taken by each state/province
  • These diagrams only consider public water supplies of at least 500 people that fall within the Great Lakes basin

Source Water Assessment

Source water assessments identify, prioritize, and report threats to drinking water sources for both surface and groundwater supplies. In the U.S. the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to develop Source Water Assessment Programs (SWAPs) for all public water supplies. EPA delegates the responsibility to develop SWAPs to the state regulatory agencies, who work with municipalities and local governments to create the programs. In Canada, provinces are granted the authority to develop SWAPs by the Canada Water Act, though they are not required by the federal government. As a result, most source water protection planning takes place at the provincial level.

% Population within the Great Lakes basin using a public water supply system that has an assessment

Source Water Assessment in Illinois

Illinois has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency provides factsheets for each water system that present a summary of SWAP data.

Source Water Assessment in Indiana

Indiana has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management publishes susceptibility determinations from SWAPs on their website. For information on how to obtain complete SWAP data, see the consumer confidence report for each water supply.

Source Water Assessment in Michigan

Michigan has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is the lead agency for developing SWAPs in the state. For information on how to obtain SWAP data, see the consumer confidence report for each water supply.

Source Water Assessment in Minnesota

Minnesota has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Minnesota Department of Health is the lead agency for developing SWAPs in the state. The results of assessments are publicly available on the Department of Health website.

Source Water Assessment in New York

New York has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The New York State Department of Health is the lead agency for developing SWAPs in the state. For information on how to obtain SWAP data, see the consumer confidence report for each water supply or contact the SWAP contact lead for your region.

Source Water Assessment in Ohio

Ohio has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. SWAPs can be viewed using the Ohio’s Drinking Water Source Protection Areas map tool on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency website.

Source Water Assessment in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency for developing SWAPs in the state. Summary reports of all SWAPs are available through the state of Pennsylvania.

Source Water Assessment in Wisconsin

Wisconsin has completed Source Water Assessments for all public water supplies as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has SWAP results available for select water systems. For information on how to obtain SWAP data from other systems see the consumer confidence report for each water supply.

Source Water Assessment in Ontario

The Ontario Clean Water Act requires source water assessments for all community water supplies as part of the Drinking Water Source Protection Program. Assessments are carried out at a watershed scale by committees led by regional Conservation Authorities with assistance from municipal and regional stakeholders. The committees have developed 22 provincially-approved Source Water Protection Plans, which require assessment of threats to water quality for individual water supplies.

Source Water Assessment in Quebec

Coming Soon

Surface Water Intake Protection

Surface Water Intake Protection Plans address threats to surface supplies by outlining policies to identify and remediate water body contamination, prevent future occurrences, and punish polluters. The U.S. EPA encourages local and state governments to use data from source water assessments to develop their own Source Water Protection Plans (SWPPs), though there is no requirement to do so. EPA provides resources, including possible federal funding sources, to state and local governments to help them develop SWPPs. In Canada, provinces are granted the authority to develop Surface Water Protection Programs by the Canada Water Act, though they are not required by the federal government. As a result, most source water protection planning takes place at the provincial level.

% Population using a public surface water supply within the Great Lakes basin covered by a protection plan

Surface Water Intake Protection in Illinois

Illinois has not put in place any formal program that requires the development of plans for the protection of surface water sources of drinking water, but the state provides a guide for communities interested in developing their own protection plans. The city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs have a source water protection plan for Lake Michigan that covers much of the population residing within the Great Lakes Basin.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Indiana

Indiana has no requirement for communities using surface water sources to develop specific protection plans and the state has no formal programs to facilitate voluntary surface water intake protection planning at this time.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Michigan

Michigan has no mandatory protection planning requirements for surface water intakes. However, the state has active surface water protection programs that promote planning, supply information, and provide source water protection grants to communities interested in developing plans. The Great Lakes Water Authority has a state-approved protection plan that covers a large percentage of the population of southeast Michigan, which sources water from the Detroit River.

Surface Water Intake Protection of Minnesota

Minnesota has no mandatory protection planning requirements for surface water intakes. However, the state has active surface water protection programs that promote planning, supply information, and provide source water protection grants to communities interested in developing plans. The state has approved protection plans for several surface water supplies outside of the Great Lakes basin.

Surface Water Intake Protection in New York

New York has no mandatory protection planning requirements for surface water intakes. However, New York State does have a unique Watershed Rules and Regulations law that authorizes local water supply officials to develop source water protection plans that become legally binding if approved by the state.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Ohio

Though surface water intake protection is not required by the state, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency takes an active role in promoting surface water protection planning in communities and provides a variety of guides, resources, and funding for communities looking to implement surface water protection plans.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a voluntary program for surface water intake protection that relies on community-driven initiatives. The state provides technical, financial, and educational assistance to communities interested in implementing surface water protection plans.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages municipalities to develop their own protection plans for surface water intakes, but there is no formal program for developing them. Source protection efforts in Wisconsin have focused on wellhead protection, as a large majority of the population relies on groundwater supplies.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Ontario

The Ontario Clean Water Act requires surface water protection plans for all community water supplies as part of the Drinking Water Source Protection Program. Ontario has designated 19 regional committees to develop plans, representing each major watershed in the province. The 19 committees have developed 22 provincially-approved Source Water Protection Plans that outline specific protection measures for individual groundwater supplies.

Surface Water Intake Protection in Quebec

Coming Soon

Wellhead Protection

Wellhead Protection Plans address threats to groundwater supplies by outlining policies to identify and remediate aquifer contamination, prevent future occurrences, and punish polluters. In the U.S., the Safe Drinking Water Act requires each state to develop EPA-approved Wellhead Protection Programs. However, regional participation under a state program may be voluntary and still receive EPA approval. In Canada, provinces are granted the authority to develop Wellhead Protection Programs by the Canada Water Act, though they are not required by the federal government. As a result, most source water protection planning takes place at the provincial level.

% Population using a public groundwater supply within the Great Lakes basin covered by a wellhead protection plan

Wellhead Protection in Illinois

There are no community groundwater supplies within the Great Lakes basin in Illinois. Outside the basin, the state wellhead protection program is accomplished through the Illinois Groundwater Protection Act, which establishes minimum setback zones around a well and grants communities the authority to extend these setbacks. Additionally, Section 620 of the State Administrative Code regulates activities within the wellhead protection zone and requires corrective action if groundwater water quality standards are exceeded.

Wellhead Protection in Indiana

Indiana’s Wellhead Protection Program requires all community water supplies to develop plans to protect groundwater sources. Public water suppliers are responsible for developing the plans and submitting them to the Department of Environmental Management for approval.

Wellhead Protection in Michigan

Michigan’s Wellhead Protection Program is voluntary, but the state Department of Environmental Quality provides numerous resources for communities on how to develop a plan and funds protection planning through Wellhead Protection Grants.

Wellhead Protection in Minnesota

Minnesota requires all community suppliers that use a groundwater source to develop a wellhead protection plan through its Source Water Protection Program. Water suppliers are required to define in the plan the specific actions they will take to reduce contamination if water quality standards are exceeded. Locally developed plans are approved by the Minnesota Department of Health..

Wellhead Protection in New York

New York's wellhead protection program has been merged with its Source Water Assessment Program and has no mandatory protection components. However, New York state does have a unique Watershed Rules and Regulations law that authorizes local water supply officials and public engineers to develop source water protection plans that become legally binding if approved by the State Department of Health.

Wellhead Protection in Ohio

Ohio’s wellhead protection program has been merged with its Source Water Assessment and Protection Program. Though protection plans are generally voluntary Ohio does, under specific circumstances, require a community water system to develop a protection plan as a condition of approval to use a new or upgraded well. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency takes an active role in promoting groundwater protection in communities and provides a variety of guides, resources, and funding for communities looking to implement wellhead protection plans.

Wellhead Protection in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has an active voluntary Wellhead Protection Program and many communities have developed state-approved wellhead protection plans. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection provides resources and information on potential funding sources to communities interested in developing plans.

Wellhead Protection in Wisconsin

Wisconsin requires all community supply wells constructed following the 1986 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act to develop a protection plan as part of its Wellhead Protection Program. Participation for community supply wells built prior to 1986 is voluntary. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides resources, technical assistance, and funding for communities to develop plans.

Wellhead Protection in Ontario

The Ontario Clean Water Act requires wellhead protection plans for all community water supplies as part of the Drinking Water Source Protection Program. Ontario has designated 19 regional committees to develop plans, representing each major watershed in the province. The 19 committees have developed 22 provincially-approved Source Water Protection Plans that outline specific protection measures for individual surface water supplies.

Wellhead Protection in Quebec

Coming soon