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  Nevada Source Water Protection Back BWPC Home Page   

Source water includes bodies of water such as lakes, springs, streams, rivers and wells that become our water supply. Preventing water supply contamination up front lessens associated health issues, the high costs of water treatment and source water development. Protecting public drinking water supplies at the source and managing land uses and human-caused sources of contamination are the keys to preventing pollution before it enters our drinking water supply.

Source Water Protection Guidance Documents
There are numerous source water protection guidance documents and tools that have been developed by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. The links below are documents, fact sheets, and tools which may help community leaders, consultants, public water systems representatives and the general pubic to better understand source water protection efforts in Nevada and how to address preventable contamination of their community’s drinking water sources.

The latest addition to the links below is the Draft Integrated Source Water Protection Program Guide, which is an update to the previous Nevada Wellhead Protection Program Guide.

Nevada Intergrated Source Water Protection Program [121 Pages 10.3MB
About Source Water Protection

The purpose of Source Water Protection is to help prevent contaminants from entering public drinking water sources. The Source Water Protection Program is administered through the Bureau of Water Pollution Control at the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP).

Special Note: Please direct all requests for information on public water systems to NDEP's Bureau of Safe Drinking Water

The program coordinates source water protection activities at the local, state, and federal levels, and encourages community-based protection and preventive management strategies to ensure all public drinking water resources are kept safe from future contamination.

Protection is built upon Source Water Assessments conducted by NDEP's Bureau of Safe Drinking Water for all public drinking water sources in Nevada as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act amendments of 1996, the Integrated Source Water Protection Program (formerly Wellhead Protection Program) within the Bureau of Water Pollution Control, and other data and tools available at NDEP.

Source water is untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes, springs, or underground aquifers, which is used to supply public drinking water and private wells.

There are three primary parts to Nevada's Source Water Protection Program:
  • Protection of Groundwater Sources
  • Protection of Surface Water Intakes
  • Coordination With Existing Protection Programs

  • Each of these elements is described below in more detail.

Source Water Protection Activities Summary Table


Protection of Ground Water Sources

Ground water sources are public water supply wells and springs. The Bureau of Water Pollution Control administers the Integrated Source Water Protection Program (formerly known as the Wellhead Protection Program) and coordinates closely with other related federal, state, and local programs to encourage Nevada’s communities to develop and implement local plans that address preventable contamination of public drinking water wells and springs.

Nevada Wellhead Protection Plans

The Integrated Source Water Protection Program is designed to protect public water supply wells and springs. Assistance is available to communities and water systems to develop Community or Individual Source Water Protection Plans for their public water supply wells and springs. Ground water "capture zones" for the well (called a source water or wellhead protection area) is designated and a plan is developed and implemented for managing potential contamination sources within the protection area. Management activities typically include:

  • Education / outreach to businesses, and the general public about where their community drinking water comes from and how to protect it;
  • Coordinated land use planning;
  • Physical protection (fence) around wellheads and well houses;
  • Inventory and plugging of unused wells which can act as conduits between surface pollution and groundwater; and
  • Implementation of best management practices to manage potential and existing sources of contamination.

For more information see: NDEP's Ground Water Protection webpage


Protection of Surface Water Intakes

Surface water intakes (SWIs) draw water from rivers and lakes supplying the public with drinking water. There are over 30 such intakes in Nevada. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is working with existing programs on protection of intakes, and we are researching new ways to protect intakes from pollution. Similar to the protection of ground water sources, surface water intake protection areas are designated within the watershed (i.e., Source Water Assessment delineated areas) for management of potential contaminant sources. Protection of multiple intakes drawing from the same river or lake is a priority.


Coordination with Existing Protection Programs

NDEP coordinates ground and surface water protection with other local, state and federal organizations. Many of the Source Water Protection activities are voluntary, however, work with regulatory programs is a key for protection.

Source Water Protection staff work closely with US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 - Water Division; NDEP's existing Bureaus and programs, including the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water and Bureau of Corrective Actions; the Nevada Rural Water Association, and will coordinate with existing protection efforts at Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, and Lake Mead/Colorado River.


For More Information
  • Contact the NDEP's Bureau of Water Pollution Control at (775) 687-9418
Source Water Protection Links

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