Drinking Water Foundational Public Health

What are Foundational Public Health Services? 

Scope. As with public education, utilities, and other infrastructure, we know there is a foundational level of public health services that must exist everywhere for services to work anywhere. Foundational Public Health Services (FPHS) are core services which the public health system provides in a consistent and uniform way everywhere in Washington. 

Funding. The public health system, governor, and legislature use a long-term, multi-biennium, phased, building block approach to fully fund and implement foundational public health services across Washington.  

For more information on Foundational Public Health Services in general, see the following sites: 

FPHS at Office of Drinking Water 

Capacity development. Everything we do at the Office of Drinking Water (ODW) is capacity development. However, past dependence on federal funding often limited our work to serving federally regulated (Group A) public water systems. Today, we use FPHS funding to support public water systems’ local partners, including local health jurisdictions (LHJs) and local planning authorities (cities, towns, and counties). 

Local water partners. Local planning coordinates community-wide decisions on land use and economic development. These decisions impact both the location and volume of water to be used. LHJs ensure drinking water is safe and reliable, even when the water isn’t served by a Group A public water system. 

Services. FPHS currently supplies three drinking water services: Model water programs, Community water planning, and Hydrogeology.

Questions? For additional information about FPHS funding at ODW, contact us at odw-fphs@doh.wa.gov

Model Water Programs 

Purpose. The model water programs project assists the development of a model local water program. Each LHJ can use the model water program to expand or refine its custom-made drinking water program. We have divided the model into smaller elements that can be adapted as local resources become available. Each element will describe how they can be adjusted to the size and scope of each LHJ’s responsibilities. 

Participants. The Water Core Team (WCT) is designing the elements of a model water program. The WCT consists of a wide range of local environmental public health staff members from across the state. We work with WCT in collaboration with Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials (WSALPHO). 

Process. WCT meets every other week to research, evaluate, and publish options and best practices for the many elements that can be part of a local water program. Water program topics will range from water adequacy, source water protection, and inspections, to emergency response, interagency coordination, and funding. 

Outcomes. WCT is addressing a wide variety of practical considerations for program development so that each LHJ can benefit from the experience of the others. We are working to publish new model elements through June 2025. We will publish new model elements each summer. These model elements will: 

  • Serve as capacity-building tools so safe, reliable drinking water has effective advocates in every corner of the state.  
  • Structure FPHS funding requests to help LHJs build their local water programs.  

Membership. We welcome all LHJs to the Water Core Team. Contact us at odw-fphs@doh.wa.gov to join the WCT or to gain more information on the model water programs project. 

Community Water Planning 

Purpose. The Office of Drinking Water is starting an effort to help cities, towns, and counties address current and long-range water resource issues. Because planning activities impact both where and how much water will be used, local governments are responsible for ensuring: 

  • Availability. A source of water is available to parcels with a water demand. 
  • Adequacy. Water quality and quantity satisfy all permitted site uses. 
  • Legality. Sufficient water rights exist for all preliminary and final subdivisions. 
  • Access. Comprehensive plans accommodate allocated populations’ projected water demand. 
  • Protection. The protection of source water quantity and quality. 

Process. We will collaborate with local planning jurisdictions, professional associations, and state agencies to research and publish best practices addressing water resource adequacy, availability, access, and protection. This effort will address growth management; critical aquifer recharge areas; plats, subdivisions, and dedications; coordinated water system planning; water reuse and water use efficiency; and municipal water law. 

Outcomes. Towns, cities, and counties will gain extensive access to implementation guidance for both current and long-range water resource planning. We also anticipate stronger relationships and enhanced coordination among local planning authorities, local health jurisdictions, and drinking water purveyors. 

Questions? For more information about the community water planning project, contact us at odw-fphs@doh.wa.gov


FPHS supplements ongoing hydrogeology funding across the state. For more information, contact us at odw-fphs@doh.wa.gov.  


Questions? For general information about how foundational public health services funding protects the people of Washington by ensuring safe, reliable drinking water now and for generations to come, contact us at odw-fphs@doh.wa.gov