Source Water Protection Grant Program

Working to protect drinking water supply lands to support clean and safe drinking water.

wildflowers bloom in a wetlandThe DWGTF Source Water Protection (SWP) program offers competitive grants to permanently protect drinking water supply lands in New Hampshire. Many national organizations and agencies have long recognized that what happens on the land affects the quality of water that flows from it. Protecting drinking water sources from development and degradation is an effective way to assure we have high-quality drinking water at the tap. If we keep our rivers, lakes and groundwater free from pollution, it is easier and less expensive to keep drinking water safe and healthy. Protecting source water from contamination helps reduce treatment costs and may avoid the need for complex treatment. In addition, when we use nature to filter pollution, collect and store rainwater, and recharge our aquifers it reduces operational and treatment costs otherwise needed to make our water safe to drink.

Protecting water quality at the source also has many other environmental and societal benefits that are not seen from treatment alone. This link between land protection and water quality unites public water systems, communities, local landowners and land trusts around the goal of providing safe drinking water. Together, through land protection efforts, we can reduce long-term water treatment and management costs, and secure safe and reliable water supplies for use now and generations to come.

2024 annual funding round now open!

NHDES will accept proposals this spring for the 2024 annual funding round. Grants will be available to cover up to 50% of total project costs to permanently protect "High-Priority Water Supply Lands," which are identified below. "High-Priority Water Supply Lands" can be viewed in the Source Water Protection Mapper to determine if your project contains eligible land. Grants are capped at $500,000 per project. Pre-applications must be submitted by May 30, 2024, to be considered for funding. Each pre-application will be reviewed for completeness, and if found eligible, applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Full funding applications must be submitted to NHDES by 4 p.m. on August 8, 2024.   

NHDES defines "High-Priority Water Supply Lands” as land that falls within either one or more of the following:

  • Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPA).
  • Hydrologic Areas of Concern (HAC).
  • High-Yield Stratified Drift Aquifers classified as GA2.
  • Land that the Advisory Commission has determined will likely benefit a future public or community public water system.

The Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission has allocated $2 million for the 2024 Source Water Protection grant round to fund eligible water supply land protection projects.

What makes a project competitive?

There are several factors the Advisory Commission uses to evaluate projects and determine funding awards (using evaluation criteria set in the DWGTF Source Water Protection Grant Program Rules). Projects that meet multiple criteria will rank higher.

  • The total acres of High-Priority Water Supply Lands and/or the number of sources that will be protected.
  • The distance of the project location to a water supply well or intake.
  • Project is supported by the host municipality and public water system.
  • The amount of match from outside funding sources and/or documented efforts to obtain match through other funding sources, donations and conservation funds.
  • Project has been identified as a high priority for conservation for drinking water supply in a local or regional plan.
  • The amount and quality of other resources that will be protected related to surface drinking water such as rivers, tributaries and lakes.
  • The type of water system whose source is to be protected and the total population served.
  • Project readiness!
  • The property is under direct threat of development or degradation of the source water resource.

The Advisory Commission solicits pre-applications in the spring of each year. Each pre-application is reviewed for completeness, and if found eligible, applicants are invited to submit a funding application due in late summer.

Step-by-step guidance  

Grant eligibility

The program seeks to fund projects that will protect existing public water supply sources, prepare for future growth and development, and preserve the natural environment for existing and future water users. 

Deed requirements

The Source Water Protection Grant program requires specific deed language to protect the state's drinking water supply sources. Applicants are encouraged to read the deed language requirements before applying for a Source Water Protection Grant.