Before talking about groundwater contamination, it is important to understand the term groundwater and what it entails. Groundwater is water that dwells below the surface of the ground. The water from rainfall, rivers, lakes, and streams seeps through the porous ground to reach the water table. When rain falls, the soil becomes saturated, then water trickles downwards to aquifers and replenishes the groundwater. Therefore, groundwater is exceptionally significant as it directly influences the quality and quantity of surface water. Although a lot has been written and said about it, people often underestimate the impact groundwater pollution has on our lives. As a result, many people go about their daily lives without thinking about what is in the water they are using. In addition, we tend not to worry about it because water treatment facilities protect us.
Importance of groundwater
Groundwater is an essential and one of the most abundant natural resources. It makes up about 30% of the world’s freshwater reserve. Moreover, it is often easily accessible and clean. In some parts of the world, people depend on groundwater as their primary drinking water source. Water services and public health are largely dependent on groundwater management from a development perspective. The consequences of getting it wrong can be severe.
What contaminants can be found in groundwater?
Various chemicals can pollute the groundwater if discharged into the subsurface environment. They are inorganic compounds and organic and synthetic compounds, such as pesticides and other contaminants. In addition, drinking water systems get their water from groundwater sources; therefore, the drinking water can become contaminated once the source becomes contaminated.
Major sources of groundwater contamination
Here are some common contaminants that can be found in groundwater:
- Septic systems
The best way to dispose of septic waste is first to treat it. This treatment prevents harmful substances from getting into the ground and spreading to the water. In addition, the septic systems are usually structured to release the waste into the ground at a prolonged rate which is harmless to the environment. However, poorly maintained septic tanks can result in leaks which cause groundwater pollution.
- Atmospheric pollutants
Groundwater is often maintained through the hydrological cycle, water movement above, below, and on the earth’s surface. Therefore, as the water moves, it comes in contact with pollutants in the atmosphere, such as harmful gases.
- Agricultural Chemicals
In many developed countries, agriculture has taken center stage as there are more agricultural activities than there were several years ago. As a result, there is an increase in the use of farm chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These chemicals are used on the soil, so when it rains, they mix with the rainwater and seep through the porous ground to reach the underground water.
- Underground Storage Tanks
Various chemicals, oils, and other liquid products are kept in storage tanks below or above ground level. Over time, the storage containers erode, potentially resulting in harmful substances leaking into the ground. Contaminants then move through the soil and reach the groundwater, making it unusable.
Effects of groundwater contamination
Illness is one of the most prevalent problems that comes from groundwater contamination. However, plants and animals also suffer when the quality of groundwater diminishes. Groundwater contamination, for example, can cause entire fields of crops to die before they can be harvested. Also, contaminated water can cause congenital disabilities. These defects can lead to severe illnesses in children. Unfortunately, the fishing industry that relies on water is not left out of this menace. Polluted water can kill thousands of fish. All of these effects can result in economic instability and affect society’s economic growth. In addition, groundwater pollution can have a devastating impact on the environment. One such consequence is the loss of certain nutrients essential for the ecosystem’s self-sustenance.
The sources of groundwater contamination are diverse. These contaminants enter the water through several channels, direct entry of contaminants from the land surface through wells and the flow of contaminated or saline water because of pumping. As a result, the warning signs of contaminated water vary. Therefore, one must be observant of the condition of the water in use and the immediate environment. This can help prevent or restrict the adverse consequences of groundwater contamination. Understanding the surrounding environmental conditions before moving into a new residential area will be beneficial because contaminated water can influence your day-to-day activities significantly. Since groundwater is nature’s purest form of water, it is essential to protect it from pollution.
Meridian environmental services have you covered if you want to decontaminate your groundwater using a remediation method.