Comparative Evaluation of Risk Management Frameworks for US Source Waters

Programs to manage risks to drinking water sources have expanded globally in the past 20 years, and could offer benefits to U.S. utilities. This participatory study compared candidate frameworks and practitioner interviews with evaluation criteria matched to implementation theory. Weighted integration using stakeholder survey responses and input from a decision-making workshop helped to rank relative applicability. The findings recommended hybridizing the American National Standards Institute/American Water Works Association (ANSI/AWWA G300) source water protection standard and World Health Organization Water Safety Plan guidance, as well as incorporating financial considerations into risk ranking and mitigation decisions.

The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act required states to develop source water assessment programs identifying existing and potential contamination sources; however, comprehensive risk prioritization and management approaches for surface water supplies have seen limited application. This participatory study assessed which permutation(s) of risk management frameworks and tools might benefit U.S. utilities by combining a literature review with external utility interviews. Qualitative data provided a basis for categorical assignments of goodness of fit with each of 24 framework evaluation criteria across five categories. Weighted integration using stakeholder input provided a relative ranking of applicability, later validated at a decision‐making workshop. Hybridization of the American National Standards Institute/American Water Works Association (ANSI/AWWA G300) source water protection standard and World Health Organization Water Safety Plan guidance was recommended to develop a comprehensive risk management approach for U.S. source waters. Cost–benefit components of other guidance materials were recommended to incorporate financial considerations into risk ranking and mitigation decisions.

Comparative evaluation of risk management frameworks for US source waters. K. Setty, R. Raucher, R. McConnell, J. Bartram. 2019. AWWA Water Science 1:1. doi.org/10.1002/aws2.1125