Putting your Plan Together

Many public water systems have recognized the value of planning for the future by considering the development of a SWP program. In part, this is because water resource agencies and technical assistance programs have been very active in getting information about SWP to system operators and managers. But another significant reason that we're seeing more and more systems begin development of a SWP plan is because "it just makes good sense."  The concepts are easy:

  1. Find out where your water comes from;
  2. Identify potential threats located within the source area; and
  3. Decide how to manage those threats.

While the concept is easy, some of us have a tougher time when it comes to 'putting pencil to paper' that is actually the writing of the plan. A few suggestions follow that may help you see your way through the process. And while you're reading this through and thinking, "I get the concept, but I just don't write things down very well" give some thought to getting help from someone else you might know who can handle paperwork type tasks.  Look around and find someone to help out. A spouse, or perhaps someone else involved with the public water system, or on the community planning team can help put it together. A SWP plan template or fill in the blank form is included as an attachment to this manual to help you get started.

There are many ways to effectively use the template. One method is to gather all your SWP information at a computer work station, bring the document provided on the disk to the screen using a word processing program and then simply fill in the specific information where prompted. If there are sections for which you do not have complete information, you will need to add it before submitting your plan to DEP for approval review.

Your SWP plan should be of sufficient detail to allow an unfamiliar reader to fully understand how your water system works, what steps you have taken to identify and manage potential contaminants and your planned response to an emergency. In other words, your source water protection program should be a document that fully describes your public water system including distribution system and water source(s). Some of the description will be written and some will be graphic (maps, diagrams, etc.) attached as appendices.

It is important that your plan be put together in a manner that will allow others to fully understand your community and water system based on the work you have done. Certified operators change positions as do city councils and water user association board members. The plan will be used by others who were not involved with its creation; therefore it must be a stand alone-type document.