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Source Water Protection

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Source water refers to sources of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs and groundwater) that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells. Source water protection includes a wide variety of actions and activities aimed at safeguarding, maintaining or improving the quality and/or quantity of sources of drinking water and their contributing areas.

The 2018 Farm Bill added a provision providing for the protection of source water through targeted conservation practices. This provision, 1244(n), instructs USDA to encourage the protection of drinking water sources through the following methods:

  • Identifying local priority areas for drinking water protection in each State. This is done in collaboration with State technical committees and community water systems and may address concerns about either the quality or quantity of source water or both.
  • Providing increased incentives for practices that relate to water quality and quantity and protect drinking water sources while also benefitting producers.
  • Dedicating at least 10 percent of the total funds available for conservation programs (excluding CRP) to be used for source water protection each year, from fiscal year 2019 through 2023.

Fiscal Year 2022 Priority Areas










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For additional information on NRCS source water protection efforts, please contact Martin Lowenfish, Areawide Planning Branch, at