Many of us are concerned about the water our friends and families are consuming. Maybe you’ve noticed that the water in your city smells or tastes strange sometimes, or that your at-home water filter doesn’t seem to be enough to keep your water clean.
The term “groundwater” applies to all water that is located underground. In other words, water you are unable to see when you walk around is most likely classified as groundwater. Considering some groundwater sources are buried deep below the ground, you may be led to believe that this would keep groundwater well-protected; regrettably, though, this assumption isn’t well-founded.
Why is groundwater important?
As a global society, we rely massively on groundwater to provide us with fresh drinking water; however, and quite unfortunately, it is the most polluted type of water on the planet. This is because anything located on land can ultimately flow into groundwater sources and contaminate it.
If the contaminants that seep into the ground are also pollutants, they quickly pollute the water. Over time, as groundwater moves into surface water sources, it brings those pollutants onward with it. That polluted water then enters our reservoirs and water treatment facilities — just a short step away from our loved one’s homes.
What are people doing about groundwater contamination?
Groundwater contamination is a tremendous problem that demands to be addressed — immediately. Regrettably, most people aren’t doing enough to preserve their groundwater, and the issue continues to escalate.
While cleaning up polluted surface water is a good start, it won’t completely resolve the underlying issue of groundwater pollution that endangers so much of the world. Groundwater and soil remediation needs to become a priority for everyone, including governments and civil societies.
What are the prevalent sources of groundwater contamination?
Sadly, almost anything can contaminate water, particularly in regions where chemical oxidants and contaminants aren’t monitored or managed efficiently and effectively.
Here are four common sources of contamination:
- Septic and sewage systems – If septic or sewage systems are fitted incorrectly or left too long without proper maintenance, they can split or leak in such a way that human waste enters the surrounding soil. From here, it makes its way to groundwater, surface water, and drinking water. Sadly, this contaminated water, quite understandably, harbors germs or harmful bacteria, and parasites.
- Hazardous waste and power plants – Hazardous or toxic waste sites and power plants contribute to the problem massively. When toxic waste is stored or moved, there’s an immense possibility that it will ooze into groundwater sources nearby. Wherever power plants are found, radioactive waste can penetrate deep into the soil and pollute the groundwater.
- Landfills, construction sites, and chemicals products used at home – Anywhere chemicals are used, the potential for groundwater pollution exists.
- In this regard, landfills are an immense problem as they are filled with things that were inappropriately disposed of and that are just sitting there. This includes e-waste such as old PCs, laptops, mobile phones, batteries, tires, assorted metal, rubber and plastic waste, etc. When this happens, the chemicals seep into the ground around the landfill, and toxic runoff exists which, additionally, raises the risk of groundwater contamination.
- Household cleaning products, detergents, and even our seemingly benign shampoos and soaps all contain chemicals that are carried deep into the ground when we use them.
- Agricultural and industrial waste – Traditional agricultural practices involve the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that result in toxic runoff penetrating the soil, consequently contaminating groundwater.
The improper disposal of animal and industrial waste such as in meat or food processing units and manufacturing facilities in general can all seriously affect groundwater sources.
How can we prevent groundwater contamination?
Limiting groundwater contamination is imperative if we are to stop the issue from expanding any further. If you want to try to decrease the opportunity for groundwater contamination where you live, here are ways to make a difference.
● Store and dispose of everything properly
No matter what you have at home, anything you throw out must be disposed of correctly. Especially in residential areas, drainage generated by spills of these chemicals around the home can cause a lot of damage to groundwater. Incorrect disposal pollutes groundwater, thereby rapidly spreading to drinking water sources.
Practice garbage segregation to support your community’s environmental efforts. If you can, try to use household products made from natural or eco-friendly ingredients.
● Don’t let faucets drip or leak
While always ensuring you are turning off your faucets when they are not in use, don’t forget to also check them for leaks. A leaking faucet uses up a lot of groundwater, and can cost you a lot of money (as will be reflected in your water bill). Take care of both issues by regularly checking for leaks.
In the Community
● Talk to businesses and government representatives
No matter if you get your water from a city or county source (or potentially your own well), find ways to communicate with people in positions of power where you live, and make it part of your mission to campaign or lobby for them to come up with policies or regulations to protect precious groundwater.
Having regulations or laws in place entails the cooperation of individuals, businesses and industries which would, in turn, lead to bigger, better impacts and long-term results for the protection of the environment, not just water.
● Implement more environmentally-friendly practices
Every office can take additional steps to become more environmentally conscious. If your firm isn’t making enough changes, take it upon yourself (or with a group of like-minded colleagues) toplan your own initiatives and launch them for your team. Simply things like things like cutting back on chemical cleaner use and implementing practical reusing or recycling programs.
Groundwater is indispensable to all of us. Every single one of us requires freshwater to survive, and since groundwater is the origin of the majority of our drinking water, it’s imperative that we protect and preserve it.
The only way we are going to improve the quality of our groundwater supplies is if we all work together; then the better off we will all be.
Patrick Randall is the Vice President of National Sales at Hepure Technologies. He holds a BS in Mechanical and Chemical engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in Civil Engineering from CSUS. He has been working in the environmental and bioremediation space since graduating in 1986.