What we do
The core of our mission - "Protect Drinking Water through Land Conservation" - is Source Water Protection.
"Source Water" refers to the rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells. Source water protection includes a wide variety of actions and activities aimed at safeguarding, maintaining, or improving the quality and/or quantity of sources of drinking water and their contributing areas.
After the 2014 Elk River Chemical Spill in West Virginia, all public water utilities serving more than 25 people are required to have Source Water Protection Plans. These plans include management strategies for preventing the impacts of potential sources of drinking water contamination.
Strategies for protecting source water include land conservation, education & outreach, and stewardship.
What is land conservation?
“Land Conservation” refers to voluntary conservation easements, wherein a landowner willingly enters into an agreement with a legal entity, such as a county Farmland Protection Board or local land trust, to protect their land and water forever by retiring the development rights of their land. The landowner continues to own and operate the land for all of its current uses, as agreed upon in the conservation easement. Voluntary land conservation easements are a successful strategy to protect the water we drink by conserving land in areas closest to the water sources that feed our drinking water supplies.
Learn more about Conservation here.
What is education & outreach?
"Education & Outreach" refers to all of the actions we can take to inform, engage, and educate the public about our work. In order to affect change in our community, we must first educate private citizens, landowners, public policy makers, and others on the importance of source water protection and the connection between protected lands and clean drinking water. To do so will require successful strategies for reaching out into the community to engage the public in conversations about ways they can get involved.
Learn more about Education & Outreach here.
What is stewardship?
"Stewardship" refers to voluntary practices that a landowner willingly agrees to install on their property for the betterment of their land and water. Such practices include, but are not limited to: planting trees along streams; fencing livestock out of streams; restoring formerly-functioning wetlands; creating nutrient management plans, forest management plans, or other plans to protect natural resources and prevent stormwater runoff pollution; installing alternative watering sources for livestock; composting manure; planting grass buffers; and other best management practices to steward land and water.
Learn more about Stewardship here.