Groundwater Pollution

The majority of the globe's population relies on groundwater as the major source of drinking water available. Moreover, such sources serve factories and farms as well for technological or irrigation purposes. Presently groundwater pollution is very much debated as it leaves millions of people with little drinking sources. The number of undesirable substances or pollutants has reached a very high level, not only turning water dirty but also creating mutations in the ecosystems. Any pollutant that reaches the aquifer makes the water improper for a domestic purpose. Another form of contamination besides the chemical one is the microbiological type, which is just as dangerous.

What many people do not know is that groundwater pollution occurs naturally as well, and this happens for the very reason that the soil contains all sorts of minerals and normal substances that are harmful for man's health. Therefore, man-made factors are not the only ones to threaten the safety and quality of our waters. Though for so many years we have believed that sediments act as natural filters for the aquifer, it turned out that this filtration and protection was not as good as we believed. Unfortunately, when the aquifer is contaminated it becomes unusable for decades maybe, without the possibility to clean or purify it.

Among the many factors for groundwater pollution we should mention leaking gasoline storage tanks, industrial waste disposal or pesticides and herbicides that get into the soil when washed away by rains. A better understanding and knowledge of the aquifer areas should prevent accidental spilling and even motivated chemical treatments that affect the water sources indefinitely. Sometimes wider areas are affected depending on the extent of the contamination. Higher care and more precaution measures on the part of domestic users and business owners are the main way to put a stop or at least limit groundwater pollution.

Groundwater moves a lot more slowly without turbulences or the mixing possibility which makes it more difficult to clean. Moreover, groundwater pollution is not so easy to detect, on the contrary it could actually pass unnoticed for years, and therefore spread over a larger area. The problem is that the contaminants gather in a plume flowing along with the water, and this plume can sometimes cover several kilometers in length. The water could be cleaned by creating an underground barrier of clay, cement or steel, by pumping water in wells and even by using another chemical that would react with the contaminant rendering it harmless.

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