West Virginia Rivers created the Safe Water for West Virginia program to help utilities by involving public agencies and citizen groups in implementing source water protection plans and watershed protection. Through Safe Water Jefferson County, West Virginia Rivers is facilitating three model projects to build a stronger community of support for our waters, rivers, and streams. Each explores a different approach to laying a foundation for a safe water future. Learn about the work of watershed groups in Jefferson County by watching this video.

Safe Water Harpers Ferry

For the Harpers Ferry water system, we are gathering stakeholders to explore the intersection of the Harpers Ferry Water Works’ source water protection plan and the state’s “watershed-based plan” for Elks Run — the source of Harpers Ferry’s drinking water supply. A watershed-based plan identifies the existing sources of pollution, like runoff from fields and commercial sites, and recommends specific actions to address these sources.

Stakeholders include Harpers Ferry Water Works, watershed organizations like Elks Run Watershed Group, and representatives from homeowners, businesses, and farmers. It will also involve agencies like the WV Department of Environmental Protection and the WV Conservation Agency. Together they will explore the common goals and strategies of both plans, and recommend projects that further the goals of both.

Read Harpers Ferry Source Water Protection Plan.

Read the Elks Run Watershed-based Plan.

Safe Water Shenandoah

For this project, WV Rivers convened stakeholders like Charles Town Utility Board, Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition, the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, the Jefferson County Water Advisory Commission, Friends of Bullskin Run, and local experts on water and aquatic health.

The group mapped out ideas that addressed some of public outreach strategies of the City’s source water protection plan. Then a subgroup helped shape those ideas into actions. These actions include sponsoring the Parks and Recreation Department’s summer film series, helping Potomac Valley Audubon Society expand its environmental education programs in schools, producing educational materials for the utility, and hosting upcoming education events for homeowners and businesses.

Read the Charles Town Source Water Protection Plan.

Read the report “Drinking Water Source Quality Analysis: Shenandoah River and Tributaries”

Protected Lands, Healthy Waters

This project focuses on the connection between land conservation and source water protection. We’re collaborating with water utilities and conservation organizations like WV Land Trust, the Farmland Protection Board, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, and the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission to explore strategies to accelerate conservation easements that benefit Jefferson County’s public drinking water sources. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement whereby landowners sell or donate development rights to preserve farmland, forests, and lands adjacent to waterways. Jefferson County’s local conservation partners have made the county’s conservation efforts one of the most successful in the state.

The utilities are Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, and Shepherdstown.

The resulting action plan will be a collaborative effort to leverage the county’s green infrastructure plan to identify priority conservation areas. It will also identify strategies to empower local and statewide to do even more of the great work they do.

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