People take a lot of pride in a local sports team, a local delicacy or renowned landmark.
However, not too many people even know the source of their drinking water, the most important natural resource. The first-ever Source Water Protection Week happening from Sept. 26-Oct. 2 offers everyone an opportunity to familiarize themselves with their drinking water and find out its source.
It is important for water consumers to learn about the impacts drought, wildfires and climate change may have on their drinking water. If we keep our rivers, lakes, groundwater wells and other drinking water sources free from pollution, it’s easier and less expensive to keep tap water safe and healthy.
From mountains to farmlands to urban settings, source water protection is accomplished in many ways. Many communities’ water supplies begin in forested watersheds, so source water protection is tied to maintaining healthy wooded ecosystems. Trees act as natural filters for water, cleaning out sediment and pollutants that may otherwise make their way downstream into drinking water, increasing the cost of treatment.
One of the most significant threats to drinking water sources comes from nutrient runoff, often from urban stormwater and agricultural operations. Contaminants, such as fertilizers and animal waste, can find their way into waterways that lead to drinking water supplies, sometimes causing harmful algal blooms that require extensive treatment or switching to a different source. Check out this whiteboard animation for an explanation of the impact contamination can have on a water supply.
There are small steps we can all take to protect source water. Not using the toilet as a trash can help, because after wastewater is cleaned, it is discharged into rivers and streams that may later be retreated for drinking water. The cleaner that water is, the less expensive the drinking water treatment.
We can also remember that as we are enjoying our forests, reservoirs and streams, all water is potentially source water, and we should treat it with care. Additionally, not dumping pollutants such as used motor oil, antifreeze, pet waste, left-over pesticides into storm drains can help us keep our water safe too.
So, during Source Water Protection Week, let’s all do our part to help everyone celebrate and recognize the connection between our source water and the water we drink. In doing so, we will enjoy better health, a cleaner environment, and ultimately, lower water bills.