Our population is increasing every day. We as a nation are using more and more water. This makes water conservation more important than ever. People need to understand what the operator goes through and to be aware that the amount of water we have to treat for their consumption is limited. Notifying the public is important so that they understand what an operator must do and the water shortage we will have if we continue consuming water at such a rate.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has categorized the sources of drinking water into three types. Each type has unique treatment methods for the best removal of contamination in each source.
Surface Water is the water that is found on the surface from our lakes, rivers and streams. This source is easily contaminated but also easily cleaned. Surface water is naturally replenished by precipitation and naturally lost through discharge due to evaporation and sub-surface seepage into the groundwater.
Groundwater under the direct influence of surface water (GUDI) is groundwater that has surface water characteristics. GUDI is pumped from wells and then treated. GUDI shows signs of a surface water system if the temperature of the water changes with the seasons. A true groundwater system will not change more than a degree or two year round.
Groundwater is found underground in unconfined and confined aquifers. An operator needs to be aware of two types of aquifers. An unconfined aquifer is an aquifer that is restricted by an impervious layer on the bottom but not on top. Confined aquifers are those that are covered (confined) by an impermeable or semi-permeable layer of rock. A confined aquifer is also called an artesian aquifer.
When working with groundwater, water source protection is extremely important. Unlike surface water, once groundwater is contaminated it can take anywhere from days to a millennia before that contamination can be completely removed and the aquifer has been completely recharged. That time frame, from days to thousands of years, is why we must manage our watersheds to protect the sources of drinking water.
Click here to read more about groundwater.