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Sources of Your Drinking Water

To make water safer, you will install a home water filter. But do you know where drinking water comes from?

The water emerging from some deep ground water may have fallen as rain many decades, hundreds, thousands or in some cases millions of years ago. Soil and rock layers naturally filter the ground water to a high degree of clarity before it is pumped to the treatment plant. Such water may emerge as springs, artesian springs, or may be extracted from boreholes or wells. Deep ground water is generally of very high bacteriological quality (i.e., pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter or the pathogenic protozoa Cryptosporidium and Giardia are typically absent), but the water typically is rich in dissolved solids, especially carbonates and sulfates of calcium and magnesium. Depending on the strata through which the water has flowed, other ions may also be present including chloride, and bicarbonate. There may be a requirement to reduce the iron or manganese content of this water to make it pleasant for drinking, cooking, and laundry use. Disinfection may also be required. Where groundwater recharge is practiced, it is equivalent to lowland surface waters for treatment purposes.

Shallow groundwaters: Water emerging from shallow groundwaters is usually abstracted from wells or boreholes. The bacteriological quality can be variable depending on the nature of the catchment. A variety of soluble materials may be present including (rarely) potentially toxic metals such as zinc, copper or arsenic. Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a serious problem in some areas, notably from shallow wells in Bangladesh and West Bengal in the Ganges Delta.
Upland lakes and reservoirs: Typically located in the headwaters of river systems, upland reservoirs are usually sited above any human habitation and may be surrounded by a protective zone to restrict the opportunities for contamination. Bacteria and pathogen levels are usually low, but some bacteria, protozoa or algae will be present. Where uplands are forested or peaty, humic acids can color the water. Many upland sources have low pH which require adjustment.
Rivers, canals and low land reservoirs: Low land surface waters will have a significant bacterial load and may also contain algae, suspended solids and a variety of dissolved constituents.
Atmospheric water generation is a new technology that can provide high quality drinking water by extracting water from the air by cooling the air and thus condensing water vapor.
Rainwater harvesting or fog collection which collect water from the atmosphere can be used especially in areas with significant dry seasons and in areas which experience fog even when there is little rain.

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