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Source Water Protection

The Source Water Protection Program encompasses a wide range of projects to address source water concerns, including research, on-the-ground implementation and in-city initiatives, and partnership work that extends well beyond City boundaries.


The Source Water Protection Program takes a holistic approach to developing a thorough understanding of Philadelphia’s water supply characteristics, including water quality conditions, major sources of actual and potential contamination, water availability, flow patterns and management practices, and tidal and reservoir impacts. In order for the program to continuously meet its high standards, PWD employs a wide range of tools including research projects, regional partnerships, outreach and education, advanced technologies, and on-the-ground implementation and monitoring to achieve, if not exceed, source water protection goals.


Our source water protection program conducts various research initiatives to learn more about how Philadelphia’s drinking water sources, the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, are affected by global and regional influences such as sea level rise and natural gas drilling.

On-the-ground Implementation

Best management practices (BMPs), including agriculture runoff BMPs and urban stormwater runoff projects, are a large component of the source water program’s on-the-ground implementation efforts. The program has successfully implemented other initiatives, including the Delaware Valley Early Warning System and Cryptosporidium source tracking studies.


The source water protection program takes a watershed-wide approach to protecting Philadelphia’s drinking water sources by teaming up with watershed-wide partners like the Schuylkill Action Network (SAN), the Wissahickon Watershed Partnership, and other upstream communities and groups.