groundwater 101

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Information about groundwater 101

Published on December 17, 2007

Author: Junyo


Groundwater 101:  Groundwater 101 An introduction to groundwater basics How wet is our planet?:  How wet is our planet? 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. The majority of this water is contained in the oceans as salt water. Other sources for water include the polar ice caps, the atmosphere, and groundwater. How wet is our planet?:  How wet is our planet? Surprisingly, less than 1% of the earth’s total supply of water is readily suitable for drinking. Of this supply of drinking water, 98% of it is found in underground aquifers. This water source is called groundwater. What is groundwater?:  What is groundwater? Groundwater is water that is found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rocks. Groundwater is stored in—and moves slowly through—geologic formations called aquifers. Why is groundwater important?:  Why is groundwater important? Groundwater is a source of drinking water for more than 50% of the people in the U.S. Agricultural irrigation is the largest user of groundwater. Paper manufacturing, food processing, and other industrial processes also use a large amount of groundwater. Where is groundwater found?:  Where is groundwater found? Groundwater is available, at least in small amounts, nearly everywhere, though the quantity available varies from one region to another based on geologic materials and other conditions. Humans access groundwater with the use of a pump driven water well or windmill. How does groundwater move?:  How does groundwater move? Underground, water slowly moves from an aquifer’s recharge areas (areas where water seeps into the aquifer from rain fall, snow melt, etc.) to it’s discharge area (like streams, springs and lakes). Groundwater is always moving (this is called groundwater flow) and moves very slowly--only inches per year. groundwater flow discharge area evaporation recharge area precipitation condensation runoff transpiration aquifer water table infiltration Hydrologic Cycle What causes groundwater contamination?:  What causes groundwater contamination? Leaky underground storage tanks Poorly constructed landfills and septic systems Improperly abandoned mines and wells The overuse of fertilizers, pesticides, and road salts Runoff from livestock confinement areas Careless industrial and manufacturing organizations What are the effects of groundwater contamination?:  What are the effects of groundwater contamination? Groundwater contaminated with bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, gasoline or oil can result in serious human health problems. Although it is possible to clean up groundwater contamination, it may cost communities several millions of dollars and can double or triple the cost of water. It costs far less to prevent contamination than attempt to clean it up. How can groundwater contamination be prevented?:  How can groundwater contamination be prevented? Development of wellhead protection areas. Public information and education on groundwater. Proper use, storage, and disposal of chemicals. Monitoring activities. Land use planning and implementation programs. What can I do?:  What can I do? Dispose of chemicals properly. Take used motor oil to a recycling center. Limit the amount of fertilizer used on plants. Take short showers. Shut off water while brushing teeth. Run full loads of dishes and laundry. Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed. Water plants only when necessary. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. Get involved in water education. Slide12:  The Groundwater Foundation P.O. Box 22558 Lincoln, NE 68542-2558 1-800-858-4844

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