Public Water Supply Source Approval Guidance

Information for Public Water Suppliers from the MassDEP Water Management Act Program regarding the siting of a new source of drinking water or the expansion of an existing source.

Integration of Drinking Water and Water Management Programs For Source Approval

Siting a New or Expanding Source of Public Water Supply

The MassDEP Drinking Water Program application process involving the Request For Site Exam for Source Approval (100,000 gpd or greater) has been integrated with the application process for the MassDEP Water Management Program in permitting new or expanding public water supply sources. The integration of these water supply related permitting processes ensures that related needed information is timely submitted for efficient MassDEP review. The resulting overall effect streamlines the process of source approval while ensuring environmental protection.

The Drinking Water application component of the Request For Site Exam has not changed. Proponents are still required to submit the WS 17 permit application in compliance with Source Approval Regulations, 310 CMR 22.00. However, additional required information for Water Management also must be included in the expanded Request For Site Exam submittal. If the additional information is not submitted with the WS 17 Transmittal Form, the application will be considered administratively incomplete. There is no additional fee for the expanded application review.


Applicants must complete and submit all parts of the application.

Water Management Site Screening Package Components:

Part 1. Early Notice Guidance

A Component of Request For Site Exam Application

Water Management Program, July 10, 2003
Siting a New or Expanding Source of Public Water Supply

EARLY NOTICE / Environmental Monitor

When siting or expanding a public water supply, the proponent shall publish a notice of the Request For Site Exam application in the Environmental Monitor** prior to the application filing with MassDEP. A copy of the published notice, as it appeared in the Environmental Monitor, must be submitted with the Request For Site Exam application.

Sample of an Early Notice:

[ Applicant name ] has applied to MassDEP for a Request for Site Exam application for siting or expanding a public water supply source to withdraw up to approximately ________ mgd of water from the ground or surface water of the [ basin name ] River Basin, in [ municipality ]. The location(s) of the withdrawal point(s) is/are: [ location ] .

Written comments on the granting of a MassDEP permit to conduct additional testing of the site for a new or expanded water supply withdrawal are to be filed within thirty (30) days of publication of this notice in the Environmental Monitor. The written comments are to be submitted to the Drinking Water Program Section Chief at the MassDEP [Western, Central, Northeast, or Southeast] Regional Office [address].

** The Early Notice publication in the Environmental Monitor is not to be confused with the MEPA/ENF notice required to be published in the Environmental Monitor at the time of the submittals for the Water Management Permit Application, WM 03; and the Drinking Water WS 19 Permit Application.

Additional Resources

Part 2. Water Conservation Plan

Water Conservation Questionnaire for Public Water Suppliers

Published by the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission and revised March 12, 2008. Also includes reference to the Water Conservation Standards updated June, 2012 for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Part 3. Formatted Request Form

Water Management Act Site Screening Worksheet (MS Word format)

published February 5, 2001

Part 4. Alternative Analysis

Alternative Analysis Guidance

A Component of Request For Site Exam Application

Water Management Program, September 15, 2000
Siting a New or Expanding Source of Public Water Supply

For the proposed withdrawal noted in the Site Screening Worksheet, explain the alternative analysis used to select potential sites and water sources, including regional sources. Discuss public supply needs, water supply system interconnection and public health considerations. Costs must be discussed in terms of economic considerations including the cost of source development, treatment requirements and distribution improvements. Additional guidance on Alternative Analysis may be found in MEPA regulation, Alternatives to the Project, 301 CMR 11.07(6)(f).

If the Request For Site Exam involves an Interbasin Transfer application, the proponent must meet with DEM/Office of Water Resources before completing the Alternative Analysis.

Applicant must submit a narrative addressing the following sections:

Section 1: Cost Alternative
Section 2: Leak Detection Alternative
Section 3: Conservation and Demand Management Alternative
Section 4: Withdrawal Points Alternative
Section 5: No Action Alternative
Section 6: Other Alternative

For each section above, discuss each alternative in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Feasibility
  • Environmental effect (summarized)
  • Impact on others
  • Reduction in withdrawal volume (Sections 2 and 3)
  • Additional comments

Submit two copies of the Alternative Analysis response in the Drinking Water Request For Site Exam application.


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