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Potential Sources of Groundwater Contamination

Currently Known Extent of Groundwater Contamination (CKE) for New Jersey

Saltwater encroachment associated with over drafting of aquifers or natural leaching from natural occurring deposits are natural sources of groundwater pollution. Most concern over groundwater contamination has centered on pollution associated with human activities. Human groundwater contamination can be related to waste disposal private sewage disposal systems, land disposal of solid waste, municipal wastewater, wastewater impoundments, land spreading of sludge, brine disposal from the petroleum industry, mine wastes, deep-well disposal of liquid wastes, animal feedlot wastes, radioactive wastes or not directly related to waste disposal accidents, certain agricultural activities, mining, highway deicing, acid rain, improper well construction and maintenance, road salt.

The following table shows a list of the potential groundwater contamination sources [6] :. Place of origin Potential groundwater contamination source Municipal Industrial Agricultural Individual At or near the land surface air pollution. Below the land surface landfills. Large quantities of organic compounds are manufactured and used by industries, agriculture and municipalities.

Importance of Groundwater

These man-made organic compounds are of most concern. The organic compounds occur in nature and may come from natural sources as well as from human activities. In many locations groundwater has been contaminated by chemicals for many decades, though this form of pollution was not recognized as serious environmental problem until the s. Natural : groundwater contains some impurities, even if it is unaffected by human activities. The types and concentrations of natural impurities depend on the nature of the geological material through which the groundwater moves and the quality of the recharge water.

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Groundwater moving through sedimentary rocks and soils may pick up a wide range of compounds such as magnesium , calcium , and chlorides. Some aquifers have high natural concentration of dissolved constituents such as arsenic , boron , and selenium. The effect of these natural sources of contamination on groundwater quality depends on the type of contaminant and its concentrations. Agricultural : Pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and animal waste are agricultural sources of groundwater contamination. The agricultural contamination sources are varied and numerous: spillage of fertilizers and pesticides during handling, runoff from the loading and washing of pesticide sprayers or other application equipment, using chemicals uphill from or within a few hundred feet of a well.

Agricultural land that lacks sufficient drainage is considered by many farmers to be lost income land. So they may install drain tiles or drainage wells to make the land more productive. The drainage well then serves as a direct conduit to groundwater for agricultural wastes which are washed down with the runoff.

Storage of agricultural chemicals near conduits to groundwater, such as open and abandoned wells, sink holes, or surface depressions where ponded water is likely to accumulate. Contamination may also occur when chemicals are stored in uncovered areas, unprotected from wind and rain, or are stored in locations where the groundwater flows from the direction of the chemical storage to the well. Industrial : Manufacturing and service industries have high demands for cooling water, processing water and water for cleaning purposes.

Groundwater pollution occurs when used water is returned to the hydrological cycle. Modern economic activity requires transportation and storage of material used in manufacturing, processing, and construction. Along the way, some of this material can be lost through spillage, leakage, or improper handling.

The disposal of wastes associated with the above activities contributes to another source of groundwater contamination. Such landfills result in leaks of contaminants such as household chemicals, car battery acid, oil, and medical products into the groundwater.

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  8. There are numerous sites around the world where hazardous products such as radioactive components, war chemicals, electronic waste, and similar products are disposed. The number of these waste sites keep growing by the day. The lack of proper monitoring and maintenance of such sites leads to leakage of dangerous substances into the groundwater.

    Chemicals, oil, minerals, and other products are often kept in storage tanks above or below ground. In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 10 million storage barrels containing different substances are stored underground. Over time, the storage containers erode, and this may result in harmful substances leaking into the ground.

    Contamination of Groundwater

    Subsequently, the contaminants move through the soil and reach the groundwater making it unfit for human use. Groundwater is maintained through the hydrological cycle which is the movement of water above, below, and on the surface of the earth. As the water moves, it comes into contact with pollutants in the atmosphere such as harmful gases. When it rains, the water carries these contaminants into the ground and pollutes the groundwater. As nations develop, they invent new methods of transporting different products using the underground pipes.

    Products such as oil, farm chemicals, cooking gas, and drinking water are mainly transported through underground pipes. In many instances, the underground pipes burst and release their content into the ground. These incidents often lead to groundwater contamination. Road salts are mainly used in places that have snowfall during winter. Road salts are chemical products used to melt ice on the road. Once the ice melts it flows with the chemicals through the ground and into the groundwater hence contaminating the water.

    Contaminated groundwater can lead to severe effects on the environment, animals, and human beings.

    Firstly, groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for most people and animals around the globe. Once the groundwater is contaminated with harmful chemicals and bacteria, the humans and animals consume the harmful substances through drinking water and subsequently suffer health problems such as amoeba, typhoid, diarrhea, and even cancer.

    What Are The Major Sources Of Groundwater Contamination?

    Secondly, the trees and vegetation that rely on groundwater are likely to dry up after absorbing contaminated water. As a result, the loss of vegetation leads to an imbalance in the ecosystem.

    see Thirdly, contaminated groundwater may seep into rivers and streams and lead to the loss of marine life which is detrimental to the environment. Lastly, when groundwater is contaminated with reactive substances, it may result in harmful chemical reactions that destroy the soil around the area. The consequences of destroyed soil include poor plant development and bad soil quality. This page was last updated on August 28, By Benjamin Elisha Sawe. Your Chicago Citation Copy to Clipboard. Your Harvard Citation Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

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