Groundwater is often mistaken for surface water, the latter of which is any water that settles on the ground without needing to be dug. Groundwater is actually the water we cannot typically see, unless we dig down to the water table. It is found in sand, rock, and dirt. Groundwater moves very slowly from place to place. It is the water that feeds the surface water sources from deep below.
In this article, we will explore how you can care for the groundwater on your property as part of being responsible for your local area, but with a broader vision of the environment as a whole.
Why should we protect our groundwater?
Groundwater can become contaminated surprisingly easily. This is most commonly caused by contaminants seeping down from the surface to the groundwater through porous rocks, small gaps, and crevices in non-porous rocks. There are many potential contaminants that can affect our groundwater, such as chemicals.
When groundwater becomes contaminated, the surface water also becomes polluted, since they are ultimately connected. This contaminated surface water could be supplied to areas of human habitation. This can also impact plants and animals and can cause wide-scale illness and environmental damage. It is also a costly clean up.
Sources of Contamination
Sources of groundwater contamination can be split into the four categories below, each of which have their own subsections:
|Residential Products and chemicals used in the home Lawn care products Outdoor cleaning chemicals Pool products and chemicals Septic systems Sewer lines Gasoline/oil||Commercial Dry cleaners Car washes Construction areas Paint shops Junk yards Gas stations Cemeteries|
|Agricultural Locations of deceased animal burial Fertilizer Manure storage Pesticides Other agricultural chemicals||Industrial Oil spills Chemical leaks Chemical storage/drainage Mining industry|
How can we prevent contaminated
groundwater on our properties?
There are many simple steps we can take to protect the groundwater on our property from contamination. As a larger goal, we do our part to help look after the quality of groundwater in our general area.
- Don’t Store Chemicals at Home: Aside from standard household cleaners, you shouldn’t store chemicals at home. This will not only protect you and your family from accidents involving potentially-dangerous chemicals, but it will also help protect the groundwater by reducing the risks of spills or incorrect use of chemicals.
- Septic Tanks: If your property has a septic tank system, ensure it is well-maintained to prevent leakage or spillage from tanks that are in need of service.
- Garbage: If you have garbage that contains toxic contaminants, ensure you dispose of this properly and in a safe manner. In general, you should always dispose of your trash responsibly to help safeguard the environment.
- Cleaners: Do you not use hazardous cleaners in your home. Try to stick to cleaners which contain minimal chemicals, or even try making homemade cleaners using vinegars and essential oils. There are many natural recipes on the Internet.
- Oil: Recycle oil instead of dumping it.
- Pets: Always clean up after your pets. This prevents bacteria seeping into the groundwater.
- Recycle Appliances: Appliances such as TVs and fridges can have harmful chemicals inside, and if these are not recycled or disposed of in the correct manner, they can leak chemicals into the groundwater.
- Medications: Dispose of your medications properly to prevent them from impacting the groundwater.