Water beneath the earth's surface is groundwater, and it is often regarded as a valuable resource. Although underground water can help people in many ways, there are often a number of groundwater problems that people may have to deal with. These include over consumption, contamination, and property damage.
There are various sources of underground water. Supplies could be the result of water that passes through the soil after precipitation falls. There may also be underground springs or water derived from permafrost.
These water supplies are used by different people for different reasons. People dig wells for domestic use. Municipalities extract water to supply households that do not have personal wells. Businesses, such as farms and carwashes, are also reliant on large quantities of water, which they usually get from municipal sources.
Although groundwater is generally considered to be a renewable resource, meaning that supplies will be replenished, there are possibilities that groundwater problems can arise when these resources are overused. Natural replenishment does not mean that supplies are unlimited. If too much water is used before sustainable levels can be restored, users may find themselves dealing with shortages. In some cases, wells may have to be dug deeper to access new supplies.
Other groundwater problems can result when water supplies become contaminated. Pollution on the surface is one source of contamination. Toxins can filter down into the water and make it unsuitable for consumption. In other cases, water can become contaminated by waste buried in landfills, by run off from agriculture, and by contact with seawater.
Groundwater problems that are caused by contamination can pose serious health risks. Agricultural runoff that contains animal feces, for example, can result in human gastrointestinal infections. Toxic contamination can result in more severe health problems such as cancer and birth defects. Contaminated groundwater can also pose threats to livestock, which can affect the food supply.
In addition to problems with groundwater, other problems can be caused by groundwater. Groundwater can cause property damage, for example. This is often true with buildings that have basements. Sometimes the soil gets overly saturated with backed up storm water from a sewage system. At other times, over saturation of the soil may be the result of inadequate drainage on a property.
The damage is often caused when water from the soil seeps through holes or cracks that are found in the floor. These entry points do not have to be big or noticeable to result in groundwater problems. Once an area of flooring is damp, the moisture can seep into walls or the bottoms of furniture, which can cause these items to rot.