WQ23, Reviewed October 1993
Water is the most important resource to man. It is essential for the existence of all forms of life. Although an ocean of water covers the earth, it is important to remember that there is no new water. The earth only contains and redistributes a certain amount.
Groundwater is water below the earth's surface in rock, sand, gravel and soil. The rainfall that enters the ground keeps up the water level. Surface water and groundwater are the two main sources for drinking water. Nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population and 95 percent of rural homes depend on groundwater for their drinking and water supply.
We need clean, usable groundwater to maintain a large and safe supply of drinking water. So we must manage our groundwater wisely so that it does not become polluted by man's activities.
Several sources can contaminate groundwater:
Well water contamination can be caused by the sources listed above. However, well water may only be contaminated locally. Contamination comes through the walls of the well. Groundwater contamination implies a much larger land area as a contaminate source. People who work with groundwater quality usually use two broad terms to describe the origin of these sources of pollution.
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