When many of us think of filtered water, we often picture a bottle with a fancy brand name, but, in fact, nature can provide us with the best filtered water. In nature, there is a very efficient filtering process that can leave us with cool, clear and clean drinking water that tastes fantastic.
The Importance of Soil:
Most school children are aware of the water cycle, but many of us don’t realize the important role soil plays in filtering water. When water reaches the surface, it seeps down through the pores between soil particles. There are different types of soil, which are made up of particles of varying shapes and sizes. Gravel and sand allow rapid water infiltration due to the high permeability. Whereas high porosity soil can hold a large volume of water as it has far more pore spaces.
Generally, water can infiltrate drier soils at a faster rate compared to wet soil. This means that the length of time during a rainfall or the intensity of storm conditions will influence the infiltration. When snowmelt or rain reaches the soil faster than it can seep down through the pores, the water will pool and may run to the nearest stream downhill. The limitation of infiltration capacity is the primary reason why a high intensity, short storm will produce greater flooding than prolonged lighter rainfall.
How Water is Filtered:
As water passes through the soil, it can remove a variety of constituents, making the water purer. These constituents include pesticides, sediment, salts, heavy metals, and chemicals. The soil can provide a great deal of filtration to degrade or remove the variety of constituents in the water as it is passed through to the groundwater. The soil acts almost like a sieve, holding particles back that are too big to pass through, almost like passing water through a mesh screen. In nature, soil filtration can be more efficient, since unlike a simple screen, the soil provides a multitude of opportunities to capture any constituents.
Additionally, the surface of soil particles can be chemically reactive. This means that it can provide chemical filtration, as the chemical contaminants can be absorbed by the soil particles, removing them from the water. Soil clay particles often have a negative charge, which means that they will attract water constituents that carry a positive charge. For example, some salts, pesticides and heavy metals have a positive charge, which means that they can be effectively removed from clay soil.
Finally, soil contains a wide range of microorganisms that can transform or degrade inorganic and organic substances in the soil. This can be useful in water containing organic materials such as effluent from food processing waste or wastewater treatment plants. Soil microorganisms can often degrade the organic chemicals that are considered a contaminant when present in drinking water.
If you have concerns about the quality of your drinking water, you should speak to your local water treatment professional. There is a wide choice of filtration systems including water softeners/ water conditioners available to address all forms of water contaminants. If you consult a fully WQA certified water treatment professional, you can be assured that your water treatment system will exceed industry standards.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.