Effective protection planning begins with active community participation and public involvement. Public participation has been important to the overall success of Colorado¿s Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP) project. Source water protection was founded on the concept that informed citizens, equipped with fundamental knowledge about their drinking water source and the threats to it, will be the most effective advocates for protecting this valuable resource. Community members and public water systems interested in developing source water protection plans will have access to technical and financial support by the Water Quality Control Division (Division).
The state recommends that the public water supplier or any other capable local interest group take the lead in organizing public participation in the local source water protection planning effort. Effective public participation requires a well-organized effort to raise public awareness, to identify groups and individuals interested in helping, and to define and implement the necessary planning tasks. Source water protection planning efforts should take a teamwork approach and involve as much public participation as possible. The Division feels that involvement from as many interested stakeholders and the public as possible will yield a more comprehensive protection plan in addition to having more support.
Colorado successfully used voluntary citizen advisory groups in the development of both the wellhead protection and source water assessment and protection program plans. The Division is merging two drinking water protection programs, namely the wellhead protection program and the SWAP program. The merging of these two programs will result in a protection planning project plan called the Integrated Source Water Assessment and Protection (ISWAP) project plan. A citizen advisory group, consisting of a diverse selection of the public, will be involved in the development of this merged project plan incorporating wellhead and source water assessment protection. The following interest groups have been identified to serve on the citizens advisory group: Non Profit Planning/Technical Assistance Organization Member, American Planning Association Staff, Public Water Providers, Colorado Foundation of Water Education Staff, Land Use Decision Makers, Federal Land Management Personnel (BLM/USFS), Advocate Group, Technical Expert, Public Health Official, Colorado Watershed Assembly Staff, Scientist, Educator, Developers/Smart Growth Advocate, Colorado Water Utility Council.
The Division is committed to developing an effective and statewide protection planning strategy and project plan to assist communities and drinking water providers protect raw water quality in the state. The ISWAP, when completed and reviewed by the Division and the CAG, will outline the protection planning phase and include: project goals and objectives, public participation, the Division¿s technical support role, protection planning and process steps, the source water protection planning template, source water protection support, outreach and education activities, and the technical and financial support for the protection planning project.
Interested public water systems and community members can initiate the protection planning process by: involving the local community and interested stakeholders in public meetings, reviewing and understanding the potential threats to their water system (ie: source water assessment report), verifying their contaminant inventory, identifying potential ¿best management practices¿ to minimize potential threats, completing the source water protection planning template and implementing the necessary management practices to protect their drinking water supply.