Groundwater Pollution Why It’s Happening

Industrial wastewater management

Did you know that groundwater accounts for an estimated 95% of the nation’s available fresh water resources? It is also the main source of drinking water for 50% of the people in the U.S.

Unfortunately, groundwater is becoming polluted at a rapid rate.

Only 3% of the Earth’s water is fresh water, and most of this fresh water is found beneath the surface; it needs to be tapped into in order to access. It can either be found a foot below the surface or hundreds of feet down.

Groundwater pollution occurs when toxins and other hazardous chemicals seep into the soil and make their way into the groundwater supply. This can cause serious illnesses and disease due to the spread of viruses and bacteria found in these contaminants.

Water pollution caused by industrial waste is one of the major contributors to this issue, although other man-made products such as gasoline, oil, and road salt can cause major contamination issues as well.

Without proper water treatment, drinking contaminated groundwater may have serious health effects on nearby residents. Hepatitis, dysentery, and ghiardia are just a few common health concerns that arise from leaky septic tanks. Wildlife and entire ecosystems can also be harmed from pollution if groundwater remediation methods are not instilled.

The remediation and environmental cleanup industry generates around $18 billion every year in order to protect residents and wildlife. From 2009 to 2014, the industry grew around 6.3% annually in an effort to prevent the spread of diseases. More than 80% of the most hazardous waste sites in the country have adversely impacted the quality of nearby groundwater.

There are many sources of groundwater pollution that residents need to be aware of:

  1. Storage tanks: These can contain gasoline, oil, and other hazardous liquids. These tanks are usually buried underground and can corrode, causing leaks.
  2. Septic systems: Those who do not have access to a city septic system will usually have their own. If not designed correctly, the septic system could leak, exposing the environment to bacteria and viruses.
  3. Hazardous waste: There are numerous hazardous waste sites in the U.S. that often lead to groundwater pollution. If one of these massive barrels leaks, this could be a huge environmental issue down the road.
  4. Road salts: Just as sea water making it’s way into groundwater is bad, road salt is another groundwater threat. When it rains, these salts and other chemicals such as fertilizers make their way into the soil.
  5. Landfills: These are usually buried under a few feet of dirt after they’ve become too massive to maintain anymore, but what many don’t know is that there is a strong layer underneath the landfill to protect the soil. If this base cracks or erodes, the contents of the landfill will contaminate the groundwater.

In order to prevent further contamination, always be sure to practice the proper disposal of chemicals and other toxins and use less fertilizer on your lawn. For more about this, go here.

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