Water Quality > Drinking Water Source Protection

Drinking Water Source Protection

Riverkeeper was instrumental in the agreement in 1997 to protect New York City’s watershed, and the unfiltered drinking water it produces.

New York State has not uniformly applied the lessons learned in that landmark agreement – heralded worldwide for protecting high water quality with cost-effective and environmentally protective measures. As a result, communities are facing drinking water contamination crises with alarming frequency, as their source waters – the streams, wetlands and open lands that naturally supply and filter drinking water supplies – are degraded.

In 2016, Riverkeeper began a Source Water Protection project to advocate for better protections statewide. We are applying our work on the drinking water crisis in the City of Newburgh, and the lessons learned from the failure to protect that drinking water supply, documented in our white paper, A Case Study and Call for Comprehensive Source Water Protection.

That advocacy contributed to the historic enactment in 2017 of the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act, including over $100 million for a new source water protection land conservation program, and companion legislation that expands drinking water protections for millions of New Yorkers.

Also based on the findings of our White Paper, we have created a Drinking Source Water Protection Scorecard to help communities statewide understand the degree to which their own water supplies are protected, and to argue for sufficient state and federal resources to increase protections.

Protecting source waters for New York City has resulted in valuable environmental protections for vast areas, safeguarding water, lands and the array of life within them for future generations. Advancing source water protection in communities statewide can have similarly transformative outcomes.

The Scorecard is intended to be a self-assessment tool, for use by any community involved in, or starting, work on source water assessment or protection. Working with the a handful of communities in 2017, Riverkeeper is piloting the use of the Scorecard, and we will update it as we receive feedback. If you use the Scorecard in your community, please notify Dan Shapley, Water Quality Program Director, at [email protected].

Open Letter to NYS residents about Riverkeeper’s Source Water Protection Scorecard (October 2016)

NYS Source Water Protection Scorecard V1.1 (pdf)

NYS Source Water Protection Scorecard V1.1 (xls)

NYS Source Water Protection Scorecard Instructions (pdf) 

Try the online scorecard here:


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