We rely on clean drinking water to stay fit and healthy and yet most of us don’t know the source of that water. In this article, we will take a closer look at tap water sources for private well water and public water and the potential problems in more detail.

1.  Surface Water

When we refer to surface water, we’re talking about streams, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, and lakes. Surface water accounts for around ⅔ of the drinking water consumed in the U.S. It is by far the most used source of public water and a survey in 2010 found that 86% of the U.S. population was serviced by this type of water system.

The primary threats to surface water may be naturally occurring or human-inflicted activity. Some examples include stormwater runoff which may contain pesticides, wastewater discharges, chemical spills, mining activity, traffic related (oil spills, brake fluids, road salt, and maintenance chemicals), algal blooms, and bacteria.

The largest threat is stormwater runoff because excessive rainfall can shake loose and move a lot of chemicals and other contaminants into the drains. This can include agricultural pesticides and herbicides and similar chemicals that people use in their gardens. Other contaminants that can be flushed into the water include trash, salts, chemicals, and more. These contaminants decrease the groundwater percolation which means that the volume of water that could potentially reach the groundwater is decreased. They also raise pollution and introduce some contaminants that cannot be removed with standard water treatment systems.

2.  Groundwater

It’s estimated that groundwater sources are 30.1% of freshwater resources around the world. These underground aquifers are fed with water that seeps through various layers of rock, soil, and sand. The water can enter via rainfall or from surface water sources. An aquifer is a porous rock formation that can store large volumes of groundwater and the water table is the top of this formation. Many private well users and some municipalities draw their water from groundwater sources. In some cases, a municipality may draw groundwater and mix it with surface water to make up a water volume shortfall. Almost 100% of private well water and around 38% of U.S. drinking water is sourced from groundwater.

Much like surface water, groundwater can be contaminated by natural and human contamination. Natural contamination can include arsenic, chromium, bacteria, and more. Human activity pollution may include pesticides, herbicides, landfill leakage, oil spills, gas spills, traffic runoff, and more.

In Conclusion

We will not cover rainwater harvesting and seawater desalination in this article because they represent a minute volume of water that’s used in the U.S. at this time. As you can see, contamination in both surface and groundwater sources is a real problem. Many of these contaminants are not removed at public water treatment plants. Private well water users are solely responsible for the quality of their drinking water. So, many people install their own water filtration systems to remove a wide variety of contaminants from their drinking water.

If you want to improve the quality of your drinking water, contact your local water treatment specialist.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.