This week, May 5 – 11, OCWA–Central New York’s Water Authority–and other water professionals across North America are celebrating National Drinking Water Week.

In 1988, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) first proposed Drinking Water Week and formed a coalition along with the League of Women Voters, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A resolution was sponsored to name the first week of May as Drinking Water Week, and an information kit was distributed to the media and to more than 10,000 utilities. The week-long observance was declared in a joint congressional resolution and signed by then President Ronald Reagan.

This year’s theme for Drinking Water Week is Protect the Source.

We all know the vital role that water plays in our daily lives. By protecting our water sources from contamination now it can ensure that it is there for our future generations to come. Some easy things that we can do to protect drinking water sources include:

  • Putting up signs – Post signs along the border of your source water protection area to notify people that any pollution in that area can affect the quality of local drinking water.
  • Use and dispose of harmful materials properly – Don’t dump hazardous waste on the ground. It can contaminate the soil, which could also contaminate the ground water or nearby surface water. A number of products used at home contain hazardous or toxic substances that can contaminate ground or surface waters, such as:
    • Motor oil
    • Pesticides
    • Leftover paints or paint cans
    • Mothballs
    • Flea collars
    • Household cleaners
    • A number of medicines

Also, don’t overuse pesticides or fertilizers. Many fertilizers and pesticides contain hazardous chemicals. These can travel through the soil and contaminate ground water. If you have to use these, use them in moderation.

  • Volunteer in your community -Find a watershed or a source water collaborative in your community and volunteer to help. If there are no active groups, consider starting one. Use the Source Water Collaborative’s How to Collaborate Tool Kit at to get started.
  • Join in a beach, stream or wetland cleanup -You can make new friends while you help protect source water.
  • Prepare a presentation about your watershed for a school or civic organization -Discuss water quality threats, including the dangers of polluted runoff and habitat loss. In your presentation, highlight actions people can take to protect water quality, such as limiting fertilizer use and eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides.

OCWA is doing its part to protect its critical Otisco Lake water source by contributing over $120,000 annually to the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) to fund projects that support lake conservation. We also send out employees each year to meet with lake residents to conduct in-person surveys about potential contamination reaching the lake. Finally, we’ve worked closely with the Otisco Lake Preservation Association to educate watershed residents about ways to prevent harmful algal blooms from forming in the lake.