Forest-to-Faucet Partnership: University of Massachusetts Amherst/U.S. Forest Service

Source Water Stewardship ProjectSource Water Stewardship Project


The US EPA Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) highlighted the need to develop innovative approaches to integrating source protection into watershed management. With funding from the US EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) worked with local teams in four areas of the eastern United States on an interdisciplinary research and development project. After organization of a local steering committee, the first component of the project evaluated threats to water quality and used a GIS-based modeling approach to identify and rank conservation, restoration, and stormwater management priorities. (This was the prototype of the Watershed Management Priority Indices module of the WFMIS.) The second component was a "stewardship exchange" designed to bring the knowledge and experience of outside experts to the site. The third (implementation) component included (1) outreach to stakeholders and the development of funding strategies for land protection and ecosystem restoration, (2) the purchase of key parcels or easements, and (3) establishment of baseline performance monitoring.

The pilot sites for the Source Water Stewardship Project, selected from a pool of 35, included the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers (tributaries of the Nashua River) on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, the Metedeconk River in east-central New Jersey, the Prettyboy Reservoir watershed in the Baltimore, Maryland water supply system, and the Little Tallapoosa River watershed west of Atlanta, Georgia. By design, the sites exhibited a wide range of biophysical and sociopolitical characteristics. The results of the project have been summarized in papers by Barten and others (2003) and Barten and Ernst (2004). The Trust for Public Land web site ( …Land & Water …pilot projects) has detailed information about all aspects of the project as well as other programs and resources.


  • Barten, P.K., and C.E. Ernst., 2004. Land Conservation and Watershed Management for Source Protection. Journal of American Water Works Association 96(4):121-135.
  • Barten, Paul K., Kathleen A. Blaha, Avril L. de la Crétaz, Caryn E. Ernst, Kathryn A. Lanouette, Marcus G. Phelps, Lizabeth Shay, Albert H. Todd, Yanli Zhang, and Matthew H. Zieper., 2003. Land conservation for source water protection: Mapping, assessment, and implementation. Proceedings of the International Congress on Watershed Management for Water Supply Systems, M.J. Pfeffer, D. van Abs, and K.N. Brooks (Editors), New York, NY, July 2003, American Water Resources Association.