Ground Water FAQ
Ground Water and Private Water Wells
Private water wells tapping ground water resources can provide high quality, economic water to homeowners, farms and businesses. Deep drilled wells recharge themselves, and can provide a constant, steady supply of water that is not easily impacted by dry weather conditions.
According to a 2001 independent market survey sponsored by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), 78 percent of private water well owners prefer receiving their drinking water from their own well. That's as strong a customer satisfaction statement as can be found in any industry. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said private wells were their least expensive drinking water option.
It also is a relatively available natural resource. BUT...
... Over 97 percent of the earth's water is found in the oceans as salt water. Two percent of the earth's water is stored as fresh water in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges. That leaves only one percent of the earth's water available to us for our daily water supply needs. Our fresh water supplies are stored either in the soil (aquifers) or bedrock fractures beneath the ground (ground water) or in lakes, rivers, and streams on the earth's surface (surface water).
- Oceans 97.2% of total water
- Ice caps/glaciers 2.38%
- Ground water 0.397%
- Surface water (e.g., lakes, rivers, streams, ponds) 0.022%
- Atmosphere 0.001%
Therefore we must take very good care of what we have as there is no new water being made. Ontario's ground water reserves are one of the larger available.
Understanding Ground Water
Fresh water is an increasingly precious resource around the world. As much work is done to ensure that humans have safe and sufficient water to drink, to promote agriculture, and for other vital activities, the importance of understanding ground water grows.
Ground water is the water that soaks into the soil from rain or other precipitation and moves downward to fill cracks and other openings in beds of rocks and sand. It is, therefore, a renewable resource, although renewal rates vary greatly according to environmental conditions.
Ground water is naturally filtered by the earth that holds it. It can, however, be contaminated by pollutants that come into contact with the earth's surface. Care should be taken at the household, local, national, and global levels to protect ground water from pollutants.
The Making of Ground Water
Water from precipitation follows three main paths:
- Some water evaporates from the earth's surface into the air or is breathed out by vegetation and returns to the earth's atmosphere. Some water runs off into streams, lakes, or oceans.
- Some infiltrates into the ground. There, it follows various flow paths and can travel to the surface as springs, move into surface water, or recharge ground water deeper in the earth.
- Ground water can move into large underground natural storage areas known as aquifers and/or artesian wells.
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As ground water moves through the ground, it dissolves some of the minerals that it comes in contact with. Those dissolved minerals give ground water its chemical character or quality. In many cultures throughout the world, that specific character is appreciated by thirsty consumers as much as the taste and character of a favorite cola, beer, or wine. Many bottled waters come from ground water reserves.
A Drumful of Water to Think About...!
If we let a 55-gallon drum, filled to the brim, represent the world's total water supply, then...
- the oceans of the world would total 53 gallons, 1 quart, 1 pint, and 12 ounces
- the icecaps and glaciers would total 1 gallon and 12 ounces
- groundwater would add up to 1 quart and 11.4 ounces
- the atmosphere would contribute 1 pint and 4.5 ounces
- freshwater lakes would add up to half an ounce
- saline lakes and inland seas would total slightly more than a third of an ounce
- soil moisture and vadose water would total about one-fourth of an ounce
- the rivers of the world would measure only one one-hundredth of an ounce, less than one one millionth of the waters on the planet