The Leading Movie On Groundwater

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How to Prevent Groundwater Over-Usage

groundwater

When you turn on the tap to get a drink, do you wonder where your water comes from? If you live in a city, the answer is probably the city’s water grid. But if your home is on well water, your refreshing drink comes straight from the depths of the earth. There are many uses of groundwater that we often take for granted.

Groundwater is one of our most valuable resources, so we should pay attention to how we use it. Today, we’re facing a trend of groundwater depletion that could put human life at risk. So what is groundwater depletion and what can we do to prevent it?

The Problem: Groundwater Depletion

Water is a limited resource. While more than 70 percent of our planet is covered in it, only three percent of that water is drinkable — and two percent of that is frozen in our polar ice caps. Much of the water we drink is pumped up from beneath the ground. One of the primary uses of groundwater is providing drinking water: for 37 percent of urban households and 90 percent of the water consumed by rural households.

Groundwater is becoming scarce in certain areas around the world. The underground aquifers that store this drinkable water are beginning to run dry. The water cycle naturally replenishes the aquifers — rainwater trickles down through the substrate and is purified along the way — but we’re pumping the water out faster than it can refill.

This kind of groundwater depletion plays a significant role in the fact that one out of every nine people in the world doesn’t have access to clean drinking water. Water shortages are becoming more common — Cape Town, South Africa, almost ran out of water entirely in 2016. Over pumping lowers the water table and increases the cost of water, and can even affect the level of local lakes and rivers.

Pumping isn’t the only threat to these natural water sources. The growth of “fracking” — the colloquial name for hydraulic fracturing — also threatens water supplies. Fracking works by forcing water or another fluid through a narrow opening to fracture the rocks that contain natural gas. Miners can harvest the gas, but the water or liquid that they used for the fracturing is contaminated and can leak into natural groundwater sources. This limits the uses of groundwater because, once it has been contaminated, it is no longer considered potable.

What can we do to prevent groundwater depletion and contamination?

Focus on Native Landscaping

It’s tempting to find the most beautiful and exotic plants you can to decorate the exterior of your home, but this isn’t the best idea. Non-native plants often come from rain forests and other areas where precipitation is plentiful. If your home doesn’t get as much rain as the Amazon, you’ll end up wasting a lot of water to keep them alive.

Focus on native plants instead of exotic ones. They’ll look just as beautiful, and you won’t have to waste all your time — and all of your water — trying to keep them alive in an environment that is so unlike their own.

Fix Your Leaks

Leaky faucets are annoying, but they’re also one of the biggest water-wasters in the world. One valve, dripping once per second, leaks roughly one-quarter of a milliliter with every drop. It might not sound like much, but it adds up quickly. That single quarter-milliliter becomes 86,400 drips per day, for a total of five full gallons of water. That’s 2,028 gallons of water down the drain every year.

Follow Watering Restrictions

We all love having a green lawn or a lush garden, but watering during the middle of the day means you’ll need more water to keep your plants alive. Once the sun reaches its peak, much of the water you’re using evaporates instead of soaking into the ground to reach the roots of the plants that need it. That is why many cities regulate watering. You’re only allowed to irrigate your plants late in the evening or early in the morning, when evaporation is no longer a problem.

Watering restrictions become even stricter during the dry months. Pay attention to these restrictions so you’re not wasting water unnecessarily. At the same time, pay attention to the weather — you don’t need to water your plants if it rained during the day!

Don’t Dump

Many of the chemicals we use every day are hazardous to local water tables. Fertilizers, pesticides and even cleaning materials can end up in a raindrop that makes its way down into the aquifer. This contamination then infiltrates your drinking water.

Pay close attention to the chemicals in and around your home. Choose natural alternatives whenever possible. Don’t dump any chemicals outside your house. Even if stormwater runoff isn’t a problem, these chemicals can be dangerous to local plants and animals.

Conserve Water

The average American household uses 300 gallons of water each day. In 2015, the United States alone used 322,000 million gallons of water per day. Every home and business can take steps to conserve water, from shutting off the water while brushing your teeth to taking shorter showers and upgrading your fixtures to low-flow alternatives.

If every household reduced their water use by just 50 gallons a day — which you can do by replacing your old toilet with a low-flow model — we could save millions of gallons of water and prevent groundwater depletion. Every little bit helps, but it will take a lot of homes making small changes for it to add up into an effective transition.

Protecting Groundwater Is a Shared Mission

Groundwater is one of our most valuable resources and it’s becoming scarcer every year. Every household and business needs to do everything they can to reduce each of their uses of groundwater, from fixing leaky taps to reducing use or watering intelligently. We have a limited amount of drinkable water on our home planet, and once it runs out, human life will quickly follow it into the abyss.

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How Do We Protect Groundwater for Future Generations?

iron-contaminated water

Clean, safe groundwater is one of our most valuable and essential resources on this planet. It is the duty of groundwater professionals to protect this valuable resource for future generations. Good well construction practices, including grouting and/or sealing water wells from the top of the well screen all the way to the surface, ensure no pathways for surface contamination to the water we count on. This practice also ensures that poor aquifers don’t comingle with good production aquifers.

Groundwater contamination can come from many sources. These sources include:

  • Industrial waste
  • Chemical and hydrocarbon contamination from refinery operations or leaky tanks
  • Pesticides, fertilizers and/or animal waste runoff from agricultural applications
  • Septic systems
  • Contaminated aquifers that are above desirable aquifers

Many states require contractors installing domestic water wells to grout or seal only the upper 10 to 20 feet of the well. This leaves a void (the annular space below the sealed area) that can potentially serve as a pathway for contamination to enter the aquifer. Ideally, after the water well is drilled and the casing and gravel pack are in place, a tremie line is lowered to just above the gravel pack/well screen area. Grout is pumped through the tremie line to displace drilling fluid and fill the annular space.

Good well construction practices … ensure no pathways for surface contamination to the water we count on.

While working in the northern Baja California area of Mexico, I was asked to look at some large irrigation wells. The issue was that the steel casing was being destroyed in as few as five years from installation. Before going out into the field to inspect the well sites, we stopped in at the drilling contractor’s facility. There we found everything, including drill pipe, tooling and casing, laying on the ground (a source for iron bacteria). It was apparent as we approached the first well site that the well was pumping into a concrete ravine; the ravine collected the water and distributed it to many agricultural fields in the area. At the water line, a bright red rust line was visible and the water smelled of rotten eggs (a tell-tale sign of iron bacteria). The 400+ irrigation wells were over 800 feet deep. The annular space was not grouted from the well screen to the surface, and therefore, one can assume that everything from fertilizers to pesticides being sprayed on the crops was eventually finding its way into the aquifer used to supply water to the fields. It is also safe to assume that iron bacteria picked up by tooling, drill pipe and casing lying on the ground was being transferred back into a nutrient-rich environment. Fertilizers were finding their way into the aquifer (high nitrogen and phosphate levels could be detected in the water), resulting in the rapid failures to the steel casing.

Another example of poor grouting and sealing practices that this writer personally witnessed was on a large geothermal heating and cooling installation. The project was at a military base on the southern coast of South Carolina. Hundreds of geothermal loops were installed to a depth of 200 feet and, to comply with state grouting and sealing regulations, the annular space was sealed to a depth of 20 feet from the surface. Unfortunately, the holes penetrated a saltwater aquifer that was above a good freshwater aquifer, which was a major water source for a large metropolitan area. The open geothermal holes became a pathway for the denser saltwater to easily migrate down into the good fresh water aquifer and became a source of contamination. To make matters worse, the geothermal heating and cooling systems did not function correctly because the holes lacked the thermally enhanced grout needed to correctly exchange temperature between the loops and the surrounding ground. The properly installed geothermal grout would also have prevented the commingling of aquifers and guarded against surface contamination.

The solution to the above-mentioned scenarios is good grouting and sealing practices. Drilling professionals must also be knowledgeable in selecting the proper grout for their applications. For example, a 20-percent high-solids bentonite grout may work well for areas where the ground stays moist, but in areas with large vadose zones, a 20-percent solids bentonite grout (i.e., 20 percent solids/80 percent water) can desiccate (dry out and shrink). The grout will not adequately rehydrate to protect the wells and aquifers from contamination. In the vadose zone, a higher-solids-content grout, such as a grout/sand mixture, may be required.

A grout also must be significantly heavier than the drilling fluid that it will displace in order to properly seal the annular space. Years ago, I heard a contractor in southern Florida complain about experiencing grout failure with 20-percent solids bentonite grout. In fact, they were drilling with a high-solids drilling fluid that weighed 11.5 pounds per gallon and they were trying to displace with grout that weighed only 9.5 pounds per gallon. Naturally, the lighter bentonite grout quickly floated to the surface. It was like oil in water; the result was an inadequately grouted water well where an undesirable upper water table that was high in iron migrated and commingled with a good aquifer.

Passing on safe drinking water to future generations depends on good well construction practices. This includes grouting and/or sealing water wells from the top of the well screen all the way to the surface. This is the only way to ensure that the wells we use to obtain clean and safe drinking water are not the pathways for contamination.

The Importance of Groundwater

Groundwater and Humanity

Groundwater is a vital water supply for humanity. Groundwater provides drinking water entirely or in part for as much as 50% of the global population and accounts for 43% of all of water used for irrigation. Worldwide, 2.5 billion people depend solely on groundwater resources to satisfy their basic daily water needs.

The Earth’s population of nearly 8 billion in 2020 is expected to reach 11 billion by 2100. Humans will have to learn to produce sufficient food without destroying the soil, water and climate. This has been called the greatest challenge humanity has faced. Sustainable management of groundwater is at the heart of the solution. Scientific understanding and proper management of groundwater is essential, because groundwater can alleviate the problem if we seek its responsible use and replenishment.

 

 

Groundwater and the Earth

Although hidden below the Earth’s surface, groundwater makes up 99% of Earth’s liquid fresh water and plays an important role in the water cycle. Rivers, lakes and wetlands are surface manifestations of groundwater, exchanging flow with the groundwater reservoir that feeds them when they need water and takes some of their flow when surface water is present in excess.

Groundwater also controls many features on the Earth’s surface. The depth of the water table is partly responsible for different plant species occupying different positions along the slopes from hill to valley, as only the drought tolerant plants can live on dry hill sides and water tolerant plants live near streams. Dissolution of carbonate rocks by flowing groundwater creates caves and sinkholes. In desert environments, groundwater discharge forms oases, which provide habitats for animals and plants.

 

Groundwater at Risk

Modern scientific measurements show that many of major aquifers (groundwater reservoirs) of the world are being depleted. Such depletion can lead to decrease in stream flow, drying of springs or wetlands, loss of vegetation, water-level declines in wells, and land subsidence. Yet another threat to groundwater is pollution resulting from human activity, generating chemicals and wastes that have leaked into the subsurface. Pollution degrades the quality of groundwater and poses a threat to human and ecological health.

As the human population grows, more demand will be placed on groundwater, a vast, but finite, resource. The need for understanding our groundwater systems and for managing them in a thoughtful manner within the constraints of the hydrologic cycle, is greater than ever.

To learn more about groundwater, please visit our web page, where you will find a growing number of books and movies for readers of diverse interests.

Can You Drink Well Water?

can you drink well water

With the right precautions, you can certainly drink well water and use it for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and more. However, since private well water typically is not treated or tested by a municipal organization, you will need to make sure that you take a proactive approach to assessing the quality and safety of your water supply. Wellwater is particularly susceptible to certain water quality issues, including both aesthetic factors and concerns that could impact your health.

Wellwater requires regular testing – and often, treatment – to ensure that it’s safe and pleasant to drink.

Potential Well Water Problems

While aesthetic issues like hardness, iron, and hydrogen sulfide are among the most common problems well water users experience, there is also the potential for contaminants that can negatively impact health.* Nitrates, arsenic, and lead rank among the most common chemicals that could be found in well water, according to Health Canada. Total coliform bacteria is another component well users may want to test for, as this could indicate the presence of harmful germs and bacteria.

In addition, some other possible contaminants in well water could include organic chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, chromium, copper, and others.

Excess Minerals and Well Water

Besides contaminants, high concentrations of certain minerals are another common problem for well water users. Wellwater sourced from groundwater in areas with high mineral content may be more susceptible to this issue. In particular, iron may impact your water quality. Hydrogen sulfide may also produce aesthetic concerns.

Iron in drinking water is a common cause of rust stains throughout the home, including on dishes and in the laundry. Minerals like iron can also leave a metallic taste. If hydrogen sulfide is present in your well water, you may notice a rotten egg smell.

Health Effects Related to Some Common Well Water Problems

Some of these well water concerns and contaminants may have an impact on the health of various household members. Considering the unique risks presented by these potential water quality problems, it’s important to test regularly, so you can identify issues before they affect your health.

What Types of Health Issues Can Be Related to Drinking Water Quality?

Health concerns for well water vary depending on the source of the water quality issue. Specific contaminants like nitrates, arsenic, coliform bacteria, and others each present certain health risks.

Contamination from nitrate may be connected to methemoglobinemia, particularly in bottle-fed infants, as well as affecting thyroid gland function and demonstrating an association with cancer.

The potential health effects of arsenic exposure from drinking water could include cancer, abnormal heart rhythms, and blood vessel damage as well as other issues, ranging from nausea and diarrhea to muscle pain and loss of movement.

Coliform bacteria, which is essentially a large group of different types of bacteria, may or may not cause illness depending on what variety is observed. However, the presence of any amount indicates that harmful bacteria, such as disease-causing fecal coliform or E. coli, may also enter the water supply, causing gastrointestinal issues.

Consuming high levels of heavy metals can be associated with acute and chronic toxicity as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and intestines. These harmful contaminants may also be associated with anemia and cancer.

Various other microorganisms may also cause infections and gastrointestinal illness.

Is It Safe To Drink Well Water?

The quality of well water can vary from one location to the next, and it can shift over time due to changes in the area, natural disasters, and more. In addition, well water quality can be influenced by the state of your good system and recent changes to the equipment you use. Unlike city water, private wells are not federally regulated. Owners must conduct their own testing to ensure the safety of their water supply.

Can you drink well water? The answer is most likely yes, but testing and treatment are crucial. As long as you closely monitor the condition of your water supply and take appropriate measures to ensure its quality, well water can be safe to drink.

How Can You Make Your Well Water Taste and Smell Better?

Safety is an important concern for well water users, but aesthetic factors are also essential to address. Testing your drinking water can help you identify what is causing the unpleasant taste or odor. With this information, you can implement the right water filtration solutions to handle the issue.

Wellwater users should test their water supply at least annually for contaminants and other issues. Professional analysis can help you discover the source of possible problems with your well water.

What Is Going on in Your Area That Could Affect Your Well?

In addition to testing your drinking water annually, certain events in the surrounding area may affect your groundwater supply, potentially introducing new sources of contamination. As a result, you may want to conduct additional water testing after certain events.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that well water can be affected by:

  • Flooding and land disturbances
  • The operation of nearby waste disposal facilities
  • Updates to the good system

Test regularly for nitrate and coliform bacteria. Consulting with a professional can help you determine when to test and what else to look for, including arsenic, heavy metals, certain minerals, and other types of microorganisms and bacteria.

Where Can You Have Your Well Water Tested to Ensure It Is Safe to Drink?

Assessing your water source to make sure that it’s safe to drink can start with professionally conducted in-home testing from your tap water. While this method can give you some quick results, your local water treatment experts can also let you know if you also should use analysis from a certified laboratory to complete a more thorough review.

Does Your Well Water Need To Be Treated?

Wellwater treatment may be required depending on the presence of contaminants in your drinking water. In addition, aesthetic issues associated with certain minerals, including foul taste or smell, can lead many well water users to pursue drinking water treatment options, depending on their water source.

Well Water Treatment Options

With an in-depth understanding of your well water’s quality, you can identify potential treatment options. It’s likely that specific whole-home and reverse osmosis systems will be part of your treatment plan. Professionals can help you find the right solutions for your unique needs.

Can You Boil Well Water to Drink?

During emergency situations, well water users may temporarily be advised to use bottled water or to boil their drinking water to kill microorganisms. This is not a permanent solution, and it does not replace the need for additional filtration systems. For example, boiling drinking water does not remove non-living contaminants such as chemicals and heavy metals. The process also takes extra time and effort.

How Do You Filter Water at Home if You Are Concerned About Water Quality?

Selecting a well water filtration system involves shopping for a solution that will meet the specific needs revealed by your test results while also seeking out options that offer customization and superior customer service from the provider.

In general, whole-home filtration systems can help address issues like staining due to excessive iron and the undesirable smell associated with hydrogen sulfide. A reverse osmosis system is often recommended for drinking water.

What Is a Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System?

A reverse osmosis (RO) system treats drinking water at the point of use through a multistep filtration process to provide you with cleaner, safer water. Using an RO system to treat drinking water sourced from a well can help you address water quality issues, improving the taste and smell of your household drinking water.

Wellwater can be safe for drinking and all other household needs, as long as you make sure to test your water supply regularly and select treatment solutions in line with your results. Learn more about the well-water treatment options that are available for your specific needs.

12 Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater

1. Go, Native,

Utilize local plants in your scene. They look extraordinary and needn’t bother with much water or manure. Additionally pick grass assortments for your yard that are adjusted for your locale’s environment, decreasing the requirement for broad watering or synthetic applications.

2. Reduce Chemical Use

Utilize fewer synthetic substances around your home and yard, and make a point to discard them appropriately – don’t dump them on the ground!

3. Manage Waste

Appropriately discard possibly poisonous substances like unused synthetic compounds, drugs, paint, engine oil, and different substances. With regards to biodegradable waste, rather than discarding it (which could wind up debasing a groundwater source), transform it into compost and you can use it to develop plants. All things considered, consistently separate it from wet waste, so it’s simpler to reuse and doesn’t wind up in a landfill.

4. Don’t Let It Run

Stop the water when you brush your teeth or shave and don’t allow it to run while hanging tight for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the cooler all things being equal.

5. Fix the Drip

Check every one of the spigots, apparatuses, pipes, and taps in your home for holes and fix them immediately, or introduce water-saving models.

6. Wash Smarter

Limit yourself to simply a brief shower, and challenge your relatives to do likewise! Additionally, try to just run full loads in the dish and garments washer.

7. Water Wisely

Water the grass and plants during the coolest pieces of the day and just when they need it. Ensure you, your family, and your neighbors submit to any watering limitations during dry periods.

8. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Lessen the measure of “stuff” you utilize and reuse what you can. Reuse paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum, and different materials.

9. Use Natural Alternatives

Utilize all normal/nontoxic family cleaners at whatever point conceivable. Materials like lemon juice, heating pop, and vinegar make extraordinary cleaning items, are reasonable, and are harmless to the ecosystem.

10. Keep up septic tanks appropriately

Septic tanks ought to never be arranged anyplace almost a wellspring of new water. On the off chance that you have no other choice, they ought to be warded a protected distance off, and safeguards ought to be taken so the harmful material from a septic tank never connects with groundwater. Septic tanks ought to be kept up consistently and you ought to guarantee they never create releases or get stopped up.

11. Keep a nursery admirably

If you have a nursery, you can moderate water by watering the plants promptly in the first part of the day or when the sun is not, at this point overhead. Watering plants during the early afternoon will mean a great deal of water gets squandered because of dissipation. Likewise, pick plants that don’t need a ton of water and composts, and are impervious to bothers. Trees can likewise help monitor groundwater.

12. Instruct others

It’s important that everybody locally comprehends the significance of monitoring groundwater and understands what estimates should be taken to guarantee freshwater sources are not contaminated. Whenever you’ve carried out strides to save groundwater, don’t stop! Instruct others and urge them to follow great groundwater protection rehearses.

The always developing human populace has put a great deal of weight on drinking water, particularly in thickly populated urban areas. Our hunger for new water has been causing the groundwater to exhaust quickly. To exacerbate the situation, our terrible practices are contaminating in any event, existing water sources like waterways, lakes, and water present in profound underground supplies.

The best way to keep our planet from transforming into a tragic world without drinking water is by ensuring and moderating water. You don’t need to hang tight for your nearby government or local area to find ways to monitor groundwater. You can follow these ten basic strides to monitor groundwater.

All views are expressed by the author. The pictures are from the website unsplash.com

TOP 10 LIST WAYS TO PROTECT AND CONSERVE GROUNDWATER

  1. Go Native

    Use native plants in your landscape. They look great, and don’t need much water or fertilizer. Also choose grass varieties for your lawn that are adapted for your region’s climate, reducing the need for extensive watering or chemical applications.

  2. Reduce Chemical Use

    Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly – don’t dump them on the ground!

  3. Manage Waste

    Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites – contact your local health department to find one near you.

  4. Don’t Let It Run

    Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or shaving, and don’t let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead.

  5. Fix the Drip

    Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away, or install water conserving models.

  6. Wash Smarter

    Limit yourself to just a five minute shower, and challenge your family members to do the same! Also, make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washer.

  7. Water Wisely

    Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it. Make sure you, your family, and your neighbors obey any watering restrictions during dry periods.

  8. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

    Reduce the amount of “stuff” you use and reuse what you can. Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum and other materials.

  9. Natural Alternatives

    Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.

  10. Learn and Do More!

    Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others.

Fun Facts About Groundwater

Did you know that 99% of the useable freshwater on Earth is groundwater? Did you also know that in north and central Orange County we are sitting on a vast groundwater basin that supplies 77% of our drinking water? National Groundwater Awareness Week in the U.S. is March 8-14, so this is a great time to call attention to the importance of this natural resource.

First, let’s go over five national and state facts about groundwater, according to the National Ground Water Association:

1. The amount of available groundwater is 20 to 30 times larger than all U.S. lakes, streams, and rivers combined.

2. 44% of the U.S. population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply.

3. 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used for agricultural irrigation each day. In 1990 that number was only 2.2 billion.

4. The largest U.S. aquifer is called the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies 250,000 square miles stretching from Texas to South Dakota.

5. California pumps 10.7 billion gallons of groundwater each day, a third more than the second-highest state, Texas.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) manages the Orange County Groundwater Basin to ensure that there is ample water for the 2.5 million people that live in the north and central parts of the county, and the water is of the highest quality for drinking. Here are five additional interesting facts about your local groundwater basin:

1. Since its inception as a California special district in 1933, OCWD has safely tripled the basin yield, which has supported the growth in the region.

2. Our groundwater basin holds 13 trillion gallons of water, but only a tiny fraction of this can be utilized without causing physical damage and seawater contamination from the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

3. Groundwater is annually pumped from over 200 wells operated by 19 cities, including Fullerton, and water agencies within OCWD.

4. OCWD annually puts back 115 billion gallons of water in the basin and uses Santa Ana River water, natural rain water and stormwater, imported water and Groundwater Replenishment System advanced purified water to do this.

5. The Groundwater Replenishment System, which came online in 2008, provides 100 million gallons per day of advanced purified water and is the primary source to refill the basin. When its final expansion is completed in 2023, it will provide 130 million gallons per day. That will be enough water to fulfill the water needs of 1 million people.

It would be impossible for Orange County to continue thriving without groundwater. That is why OCWD does everything it can to ensure that high quality groundwater is always available. Groundwater is a precious resource that we all share and should protect for generations to come.

Most of the drinking water in Orange County is groundwater, pumped from over 200 drinking water wells operated by 19 cities and water agencies within the Orange County Water District

10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Groundwater Use in Daily Life

groundwater

We already know that there are lots of people who utilize well water or groundwater to fulfill their daily needs. Truly, the groundwater possesses a significant role to maintain the availability of residence and industrial sources, and also maintain the balance of the sources, in general, there are several utilizations of water in human life.

What is the definition of groundwater? According to some experts, groundwater is water that found beneath the ground that can be collected by using a well, tunnel or drainage system, even by using a pumping system. Groundwater also can be called a stream that naturally flows into the ground surface through a jet of water or seepage. In addition, groundwater can be classified into shallow groundwater and deep groundwater.

The presence of groundwater due to rainwater, which most of it flows into river, lake, or swamp. Some of the rainwater will permeate into the ground and if this continuously takes place to the saturated zone, then the water will become groundwater. The ability of water to permeate into the ground through some small cracks is one of the properties of water. The position of groundwater can reach several tens or even hundreds of meters beneath the Earth’s surface. Here are 10 advantages and disadvantages of groundwater use in daily life.

Advantages of Groundwater

1. For Life Necessities

Inside the human body, most of it contains water. Our life can’t be separated from the water. Human can survive for a certain period of time without eating any food, however, human can’t survive any longer without water. Groundwater can be used for drinking water, bath, cooking, washing, and other activities. Generally, each house is equipped with the ground well with 5 to 15 meters depth, which is adjusted according to the area or ground condition where the house belongs to.

2. For Irigation

Irigation system must be supported by sufficient availability of water and one of the solutions of the water supply for irigation purpose is the presence of groundwater. Irigation is the important factor for agriculture. In example, farmer can create an artesian well and then pump the groundwater from the well up to surface then distribute the water to the farm. The existence of groundwater will support the farmer if the rainfall is at the lowest point or in the dry season.

3. As clean water supply

One of the advantages of the groundwater is as the natural clean water supply. The groundwater that covered beneath the ground has been through natural filtration so the hygiene of the groundwater is more assurred. One of the good signs of the groundwater is purity, doesn’t have taste and color, has neutral pH and doesn’t contain any harmful bacteria such as E. coli. The groundwater is better than surface water, which the surface water tends to contaminated because there is no cover of the surface water.

4. For electricity generation

As we know, the hydropower plants use surface water such as dam, river or lake. However, the groundwater also can be used to generate electricity. In example, in the area of South Gombong, the area isn’t supplied by any electricity companies, so the inhabitants of South Gombong took the initiative to create power plant by using flow of underground river. They dam up the flow and then the water was pumped up to the surface. Then, the water was distributed to power generation unit to drive the turbine and generator will generate electricity.

5. As nature laboratory

The existence of grounwater inside a cave can be used by researcers as nature laboratory. Due to its open location, the water source in a cave is easy to study. There are many things that can be studied about groundwater in a cave, because there are many unique organisms that live in the groundwater and it’s so in enticing for further research.

6. As industrial water source

Industrial sectors also need water as their raw material. One of the industries that needs water as raw material is bottled water industry. Besides that, batik industry also requires water for production process of batik fabric by using groundwater.

Disadvantages of Groundwater

1. Overused

Indeed groundwater is classified as renewable natural resource, however, the groundwater is exploited rapidly. Continuous usage of groundwater causes the decreasing of groundwater volume, this will causes several problems for farmers or residences that only depend on the usage of groundwater during the dry season and will find out that the water supply is wear off or decreasing.

2. Causing landslide

The decreasing of groundwater can cause depression of surface ground, if this continues to happen, there will be a degradation of the ground. Aside from causing empty space beneath the ground that cause the ground sinks in, the decreasing of the groundwater will cause degradation of plain land that cause area located around coastline or lowland tends to get flood or submerged in sea water. Groundwater is one of the causes of underwater landslides.

3. Water contamination

There are many researches show some areas in Indonesia have poor quality of groundwater. The contamination in groundwater cannot be vanish only by cooking the groundwater because the cooking process only relieve the existence of bacteria and not the contamination in the groundwater. The contaminated groundwater can cause some health problems such as indigestion, hypertension, mental development disorder, physical development of baby, and many other problems, if the contaminated groundwater is used or drank. Therefore, there are some water pollutions sources, including industrial waste that contaminates water sources.

4. Time and cost losses

Indeed the utilization of groundwater will require more manpower and time to do the digging and extraction process of the groundwater and then distribute it to the required place. The cost required for these processes isn’t cheap because aside from buying the required equipments, we also need to spend expenses to buy water supply if there are any problems or the groundwater supply is depleted.

Well, those are 10 advantages and disadvantages of groundwater use in daily life. As stated before, there are many advantages of groundwater for daily life, but also there are several disadvantages. In conclusion, we must protect the environment related to groundwater in order to preserve the availability and quality of the groundwater.

Forces Controlling Water in Rocks

The two most important forces controlling water movement in rock are gravity and molecular attraction.  Gravity causes water to infiltrate until it reaches impermeable zones where it is diverted laterally.  Gravity generates the flow of springs, rivers, and wells.  If the pores in rocks and sediments are connected, gravity allows the water to move slowly through them.  However, the smaller the opening, the harder it is for gravity to cause water movement.  The second force, molecular attraction, slows the flow of water through small pores.  Water is attracted to the surface of every particle with which it comes in contact.  The force results from the attraction of the molecules of two substances for each other.

Facing Dangers on All Sides - The Stewards Journey

The molecular attraction of water in rocks

The attraction between water and soil or rock particles is termed adhesion.  It is effective only over short distances.  Thus, only a thin film of water is locked to the outside of each grain resisting the flow downward in response to gravity. It is this adhesion that helps hold water in the soil for plants.  If gravity were the only force involved, all water would drain through the soil to some depth.  In fine-grained sediments such as silt and clay, the aggregate surface area which can attract water molecules is very great.  Fine-grained materials hold more water over a longer period of time than the same volume of coarse-grained materials such as sand or gravel.

Surface tension and capillarity

The attraction of water molecules for each other is termed cohesion.  It can be demonstrated by immersing a pencil in water and noting the drop that remains at the base of the pencil, seemingly held there by the water above it. This attraction is due to the surface tension characteristic of water, caused by cohesion.  Water will also rise in a small tube if it is immersed.  This phenomenon is called capillary action or capillarity.  The smaller the tube, the higher the water will rise.  In The Occurrence of Ground Water in the U.S. with a Discussion of Principles, USGS Water-Supply Paper 489 (1923), Oscar E. Meinzer states the reason for this attraction of the water for the walls of the tube as follows: “The water in a capillary tube is held up not only by the attraction of the walls of the tube for the water but by this attraction acting through the cohesion of the water, whereby the influence of the attraction of the water was extended far beyond the range of molecular forces.”  Capillary action is important in rocks and sediments because pores immediately above the saturated zone are filled with capillary water.  The more fine-grained the sediment or rock, the higher the water is pulled.  The diameter of the pore opening and the degree of connection with the saturated zone is very important.  So much water is drawn into the pores above the water table that this zone is given a special term, the capillary fringe.

Permeability of rocks

Permeability is the capacity of a rock to transmit water under pressure.  If no pressure exists, a static equilibrium is present and there is no tendency for water to move.  This condition is very rare in nature.  Most water can be thought to be in a dynamic state or moving in response to a pressure gradient.

Meinzer defines permeability as follows: “The permeability of a rock is measured by the rate at which it will transmit water through a given cross-section under a given difference of pressure per unit of distance.”  In a sequence of sedimentary rock with varying permeability, it commonly can be shown that horizontal permeability or permeability that is parallel to the bedding of rocks such as sandstone and conglomerate is greater than permeability at right angles to bedding.  This is because some beds in the sequence have such low permeability that vertical infiltration is slow whereas lateral permeability in units below confining beds is good.

No rocks near the surface of the earth are impermeable if enough pressure is applied in forcing the water through the natural openings in the rock.  However, the forces generated by nature are insufficient in some cases to produce detectable permeability and rocks with such characteristics are said to be relatively impermeable.  Examples of such rocks are found in shales that contain clays that swell on wetting and thus close off natural openings that may exist when the rock is dry.  On the other hand, coarse, clean gravel contains such large openings that it readily transmits water.  Ordinarily, such deposits function as the best aquifers where they can be easily recharged.  Dirty or clay-rich gravels have much less permeability because the fine silt and clay between the larger particles effectively slow down or block completely the flow of water through some of the pores between the sand grains.

Coefficient of permeability

The coefficient of permeability (P) used by the USGS may be expressed as the number of gallons of water a day, at 60 °F, that is conducted laterally through each square foot of water-bearing material (measured at right angles to the direction of flow), under a hydraulic gradient of 1 foot per foot.  It has the units of gallons per day per square foot (gpd per sq. ft.).

For analyzing field tests involving flow through the entire thickness of aquifers, it is generally more convenient to use the coefficient of transmissivity (T) of C.V. Theis (1935, The relation between lowering of the piezometric surface and rate and duration of discharge of a well using groundwater storage, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 16, 519-524).  Theis expressed as “T = coefficient of transmissiblity of aquifer, in gallons a day, through each 1-foot strip extending the height of the aquifer, under a unit gradient—this is the average coefficient of permeability (Meinzer) multiplied by the thickness of the aquifer.” It is expressed in gallons per day per foot (gpd per ft.).  Both definitions are based upon Darcy’s law.*

Darcy’s law

Darcy’s law states that the rate of movement of water through porous media is proportional to the hydraulic gradient:

q = k × dh/dl

in which q = velocity of movement; k = constant of proportionality, which is the hydraulic conductivity; and dh/dl = hydraulic gradient, expressed as a change in head (dh) over a given change in flow length (dl).

For review, hydraulic gradient is the change in static head per unit of distance in a given direction, usually the direction of maximum decrease.  Hydraulic gradient may be expressed in ft. per ft. or cm, per meter, etc., in the same way slope may be written.

*Groundwater hydrology began as a quantitative science when Henry Philibert Gaspard Darcy (1803-1858), a French hydraulic engineer, published a report on the water supply of Dijon, France. Darcy’s law is a foundation stone for several fields of study including groundwater hydrology, soil physics, and petroleum engineering.  

Groundwater Awareness Week

Much of the water we use comes from the ground. Learn more about the importance of groundwater, the threats to its safety, and how to protect its sources during Groundwater Awareness Week.

Water is one of the world’s most precious resources. People use water every day for many activities, such as drinking, bathing, recreation, agriculture, cooling, manufacturing, and medical uses. Although water plays an essential role in everyday life, many people don’t realize that much of their water comes from the ground.

Groundwater is water found below the earth’s surface in spaces between rock and soil. Surface water is water that collects above the earth’s surface, such as streams, rivers, lakes, or oceans. Thirty percent of all the fresh water on Earth is groundwater, while the other 70% is surface water. Groundwater supplies water to wells and springs and is an important source of water for public water systems and private wells in the United States.

An estimated 145 million Americans get their tap water from a groundwater source.

Groundwater Contamination

All groundwater sources should be protected from contamination (germs and harmful chemicals).

Protecting the safety of groundwater is an important priority for countries throughout the world, including the United States. Most of the time, U.S. groundwater is safe to use. However, groundwater sources can become contaminated with germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and chemicals, such as those used in fertilizers and pesticides. Contaminated groundwater can make people sick.

Drinking water fountain and hands working on water pipe

Water infrastructure requires regular maintenance.

Groundwater sometimes contains naturally present germs and harmful chemicals from the environment, such as arsenic and radon. More often, however, human activities contaminate ground water. These human causes can include incorrect use of fertilizers and pesticides; poorly situated, constructed, or maintained septic systems; improper removal or storage of wastes; mining and construction; and chemical spills at work sites.

Contamination of groundwater systems can lead to outbreaks of disease. Previous outbreaks have occurred either because the groundwater was untreated or because of problems with water treatment. The most common germs identified in groundwater outbreaks include:

  • Shigella
  • Hepatitis A
  • Norovirus
  • Giardia
  • Campylobacter
  • SalmonellaOther germs that cause outbreaks from groundwater include Cryptosporidium (a parasite), E. coli (a bacterium), and assorted viruses. From 2009 to 2017, 96 outbreaks linked to groundwater systems were reported to CDC.

    You can learn more about some of the most common environmental chemicals that may be found in community water supplies by visiting CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

    The presence of germs and harmful chemicals in our groundwater can lead to health problems, including diarrhea, reproductive problems, and nervous system disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are weakened because of HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, or transplant medicines may be more likely to get sick from certain germs and chemicals.

  • Is Your Water From a Groundwater Source?

    Public Water Systems

    water well

    Private well owners should have their water tested annually.

    One-third of Americans — more than 102 million people — get their drinking water from public water systems that use groundwater. The EPA regulates drinking water quality in public water systems. You can find out more about your local drinking water quality and possible contaminants by viewing your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which most utility companies are required to provide to customers.

    Private Wells

    An estimated 43 million Americans get their water from private groundwater wells, which are not subject to EPA regulations. Private groundwater wells can provide safe, clean water. However, contamination that can cause sickness also can occur in well water. If you have a well, you should take steps to protect it and have the water tested annually to make sure your water is safe from harmful germs and chemicals. State and local health departments provide information to help well users protect their drinking water.

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