Let’s Talk About Source Water Protection

What does “source water protection” mean?
And, how does PWW integrate it into safe water programs?

As World Water Day, March 22nd, comes closer, we want to provide you with insights about what goes into implementing sustainably safe water programs in underserved communities. If you haven’t read last week’s article about World Water Day, you can do that by clicking here.

As defined by Pure Water for the World partner, CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology), “source water protection involves finding the best possible water source for your household or the households you serve, and taking steps to protect it from contaminants.”

PWW training programs stress the importance of implementing the Multi-Barrier Approach to safe water. The multi-barrier approach includes the following steps:

Source water protection -> Sedimentation -> Filtration -> Disinfection -> Safe water storage

Following is a diagram from CAWST  that further demonstrates the multi-barrier approach:

Establishing adequate source water protection has been recognized as the most suitable and cost-effective method to keep contaminants out of drinking water. To this end, efforts are being made to teach people how to effectively manage and conserve drinking water sources by identifying mechanisms, barriers, education, practices and/or policies that help to mitigate and/or avoid overexploitation and pollution of their water sources.

In the United States, surface water (i.e. streams, rivers, and lakes) and ground water (aquifers) can serve as ‘source water’. This source water is used for public drinking water supplies as well as private water wells. Public utilities will treat most water used for drinking. Protecting source water from contamination can reduce treatment costs and can also reduce risks to public health. (source: EPA)

Source water in developing countries, like Haiti and Honduras, typically comes from surface water, ground water, or rainwater. Surface and ground water sources typically have pollutants, such as livestock defecation and disposal of hazardous waste in the environment, that can negatively impact drinking water quality and safety.

Source water protection training is critical to creating sustainable safe water programs and a fundamental part of PWW’s comprehensive WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) programs.

Without established public utilities to manage water treatment, PWW provides source water protection training to families and communities, empowering them to take proactive steps to prevent contamination and protect their water sources. Families and communities are taught a variety of methods to protect water contamination, such as building fences to keep livestock contained and away from precious water sources, planting trees and/or taking care of the existing ones, building a fence or concrete structure around the water source, and more.

As an example, in Honduras, PWW works in dispersed rural regions where land is one of the main sources of income. Coffee and basic grains (ie. corn, beans) plantations have replaced the native forests and the indiscriminate use of pesticides has become a common practice, leaving heavy metals behind. Additionally, bad habits (like not having a safe disposal of the solids, open defecation, and unsafe hygiene practices) increase the probability of water source contamination. PWW provides training for these families, helping them to find a balance between preservation of their water sources, while continuing to support their income resources.

Next week we’ll talk about the importance of hygiene education to the implementation of sustainable water programs.

Have questions? Contact us at info@purewaterfortheworld.org.

If you want to help reach World Water Day’s 2019 goal of “leaving no one behind” please consider making a donation. Just $25 brings a lifetime of clean water for one child; $300 changes the future for an entire family. Donate here.


March 19-21, 2019. PWW’s WASH Training and Consulting Team in Honduras is joining CAWST to provide a training on Household Water Treatment and Safe Water Storage in Yamaranguila, Intibuca Honduras. World Vision and CAWST are hosting the event.

Details: Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) is extremely effective at ensuring individuals, families and communities are able to access safe drinking water. It is a critical approach to mitigating unnecessary illness. By the end of this workshop, you will have the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about selecting appropriate HWTS options as well as how to implement and plan HWTS initiatives. Learn more.


March 27-28, 2019. Honduras Committee of Household Water Treatment and Sanitation (HWTS) is hosting “Institutionalization of HWTS for the achievement of SDG 6.1” in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Learning Exchange will be facilitated by Pure Water for the World and CAWST and hosted by Para Todos por Siempre (PTPS), Water for People, OPS/OMS, SANAA, CONASA and the Health Ministry.

Details: This workshop (to be delivered in Spanish) offers a platform for different WASH stakeholders to present, reflect, and discuss HWTS: progress, challenges ahead, and lessons learned. We will also come together to develop a road map for institutionalizing HWTS. Learn more.

Questions? Contact Oscar Andino at oandino@purewaterfortheworld.org.