Many of us are aware of the contamination risks that result from major events such as large oil spills or chemical explosions. But everyday activities - while at work, home, school, or play - can contribute to drinking water pollution as well. Pollution results from the additive contribution of many individual activities. In most cases, the pollution from each individual activity is small, but together there can be serious impacts to land and water. All types of drinking water sources - groundwater from aquifers or surface water from rivers or lakes - are at risk of pollution.
Contamination occurs when rainfall and runoff wash across the land and collect pollutants that can go through stormwater systems into lakes, rivers, wetlands or the ground, where they can collectively contaminate a drinking water supply. Other pollution contributors may include:
Improperly stored or spilled chemicals
Sediment from land disturbance
Contaminants can come from a construction site where disturbed soil can be washed off the land, contaminating local waters. Pollution can happen during a rainstorm when chemicals and oil from our cars soak into the ground or are washed off the pavement and into local waterways. Chemicals used in and around the house can cause potential problems:
Regardless of the type of pollution, threats to water quality can pose serious and expensive problems for private wells and communities tasked with providing safe, clean drinking water for their residents. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that it is, on average, 27 times more expensive to deal with a drinking water contamination problem than to implement strategies for protection. In the long run it is far less expensive to prevent contamination of drinking water than it is to treat contamination or develop new sources.
Potential sources of pollution can come from many miles away. It is important for everyone to work together to protect all sources of drinking water whether they be public or private, groundwater or surface water.