What we do

Mission

"Protecting Drinking Water through Land Conservation"

Vision

“A vibrant network collaborating on land conservation and stewardship practices to protect safe, clean drinking water for communities in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia”

Commitment to Diversity

"The Safe Water Conservation Collaborative is committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work. We strive for diverse representation within our partnership, and equitable distribution of resources to our community, regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, language, national origin, physical or mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, or other characteristics that make us unique."

Objectives

  • Finalizing a conservation plan to protect zones and parcels most important for safe drinking water;
  • Conducting landowner outreach on opportunities for easements; and for already-eased lands, adoption of best management practices for water quality;
  • Providing overall coordination and supporting emerging leadership of the Collaborative to advance implementation of a five-year action plan;
  • Promoting source water protection policies that accelerate land conservation to benefit water quality; and
  • Building the field for land conservation that benefits water quality beyond the project’s geographical scope through sharing "lessons learned" with other regions and partnerships.

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What 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. Strategies for protecting source water include land conservation 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.

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.