When freshwater is available with just the turn of a faucet, it’s easy to take our water for granted. But do you ever stop to think about the source of the water that you use every day to drink, cook, bathe, and brush your teeth? While 97% of the world’s water is undrinkable, the other 3% comes from a few freshwater sources. The water we drink comes from surface-level sources, like lakes, and groundwater sources such as aquifers.
We need to understand where our water comes from and how it is rendered drinkable almost as much as we need the water itself. With this knowledge, we can protect ourselves from people who contaminate and exploit our dwindling supply of fresh water. So, where does our drinking water come from?
Lakes, Rivers, and Streams
Contrary to what you may think, only a tiny percentage of the world’s drinking water comes from lakes, rivers, and streams. This is with good reason. It is challenging for people to purify water from these sources so that it is suitable for drinking. This is due to pollution from gardens, agriculture, sewage, and algal blooms. However, some people can purify some of this water, and they do it at a municipal water treatment plant.
If you live in a rural area, you’re probably familiar with well water, as this is where about 14% of all the drinking water in America is sourced from. Since wells are not under any sort of federal regulations, well owners are responsible for the quality of the water. Occasionally, the health department will stop by to test the well water’s level of bacteria, but that’s about it.
People who chose to source their water from a well should be mindful that their well water is liable to be contaminated just as easily as water from anywhere else. While contaminants can come from many different sources, there are quite a few naturally occurring contaminants and can typically be traced back to rock formations. They range from bacteria, arsenic, nitrate, chromium, and fluoride.
However, people who source their drinking water from wells should also look out for everyday activities that can cause contamination, like incorrectly disposing of cleaning supplies or motor oil, along with leaks from waste disposal. If you’re a private well owner, make sure you regularly check the levels of contaminants within your water to ensure that everyone consuming it is safe and sound. If you have the means, consider investing in a quality water filter, as this is also an investment in your health.
Aquifers are another type of groundwater that is naturally occurring. After it, rains or snows, the water that doesn’t go into rivers, lakes, and oceans travels to an underground storage center called the aquifer. Only 3% of the water on Earth is freshwater, and 97% of the freshwater that we’re able to drink is stored underground. Water is extracted from the aquifers via a water pump by drilling a steel pipe into the ground. Currently, there’s a lot of mayhem surrounding our water supply, and many are concerned about whether or not we will run out of groundwater from over-mining water. Luckily, since 2016, the Water Sustainability Act has prevented people from mining water without a license. Of course, just like well water, aquifers are susceptible to contamination as well. This can come from links in storage tanks, septic systems, landfills, and hazardous waste, just to name a few. This is why it’s crucial to get your water tested regularly. You never know what contaminants may be lurking in the water you consume daily.
How is Our Water Purified?
The process begins by pumping the water from the source, whether it be a lake, aquifer, or river. From there, the water is treated during their filtration process. To ensure that the water is safe for drinking, it goes through several stages of purification. The preliminary treatment involves filtering sediment like gravel and sand from the water. Next, the water is held in the chamber to sit so that the undrinkable material and oil settle to the bottom. The water that rises to the top of the chamber moves on to the next stage of treatment. Lastly, the water is infused with chemicals like chlorine or UV light.
Contaminants in Our Water
Even though professionals do all that they can to ensure that we have clean, safe drinking water, we still need to be wary of contaminants in our water. If you live in the northeast or midwest, don’t be afraid to do some research to see if your water is being run through lead pipes. Places like Flint and Baltimore are still suffering from the effects of lead infesting their water supply because even water purification specialists drop the ball at times. When Flint switched their source of water supply from sources in Detroit to the Flint River, professionals did not add phosphate to the lead pipes, which is meant to create a protective layer between the lead pipes and the water.
Other states are at risk for water contamination as well. Suppose you reside in a primarily agricultural state, like California, Iowa, Nebraska, or Texas. In that case, your water could easily be contaminated by the nitrates that are used in fertilizers, along with manure and septic systems.
The Science of Water
No matter what part of the US you happen to live in, we are all at risk for contaminants affecting the water we use to drink, brush our teeth, and bathe. Even if your water is not contaminated, it’s still wise to consider investing in a water filtration system for your home. Professionals at the Science of Water will take care of testing your water for free, and the cost of installation is small when compared to the improvement in your household’s health and safety.
If you’re interested in taking one of our free water tests or learning more about our services, contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.
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