Groundwater

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What is Groundwater?

Water is the basis of life. We know that the earth is full of water, i.e. about 50 to 80 % of our bodies are made of water depending on age, and 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, and only 3 % of it is fresh water; however, there’s a lot more to water than all this blue stuff we see on the globe.

The water we can see on the surface of the earth is the surface water, e.g. a lake, pond river stream, and the ocean, and the water found in the ground below our feet is the groundwater. 

The groundwater is the water that’s crammed into the tiny gaps between rocks soils and sediments underground.

A full body of the groundwater is called an aquifer.


Types of Groundwater

There are three types of groundwater:

  1. Conventional

  2. Coastal

  3. Karst groundwater systems


Aquifers

Let’s understand the aquifers through a real-life example.

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When you push the handle of a handpump, you might wonder where the water is coming from?

Here, this handpump pumps the groundwater.

The process by which water passes down through soil is called the infiltration. This infiltrated water gathers deep underground at the point where a layer of impermeable rocks is present.

These impermeable layers of rocks don’t allow the further passage of water through them, and these layers are called the aquifers.

Because of the infiltration of rainwater or water from other resources, it passes through the porous soil and “recharges” the groundwater. This water in the aquifer is what is pumped out using this handpump.


Groundwater Flow

You might have been driving across the country and seen water towers that are upon pedestals like you look in the picture below:

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You might be wondering what could be the purpose of these water towers?

Well, the purpose of them is to help give high water pressure in flat areas.

Let’s take this water tank here:

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The water will help you give high-pressure so that on the second-story of this apartment building will be able to take a nice strong shower.

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If we look at the lake, the water remains at the same level because the property of water is to be flat.

Now, if we look at Fig, the two containers are interconnected with pipes here, and there is a difference in the water levels in them.

Let’s consider a particular water molecule getting pushed by all of the water that’s at the top of the container A, and then the pressure inside the container is pushing down this water molecule which, in turn, pushes all the other water molecules in the line and we have this interconnected chain of pushing.  This phishing stops as soon as the water comes at the same level.

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Similarly, in Fig, when the water tower is half full, then the pressure between the water molecules pushes against each other till the water in the tower and the pipes get connected to the apartment bedside that is at the same height. This way water flows up to the pipes of the second-story of the house.


Define Groundwater Recharge

We define groundwater recharge as the water added to the aquifer through the unsaturated zone following the percolation (or infiltration) after any storm rainfall event.


Types of Groundwater Recharge

  1. Artificial Recharge of Groundwater

It can be defined as the practice of artificially increasing the amount of water that enters a groundwater reservoir.  

It has an application in waste disposal, secondary oil recovery, land subsidence problems, and water supply problems.


  1. Subsurface Groundwater Recharge

These systems are widely used in the agricultural area where waterlogging, and salinity problems are the main concern. They can also help in increasing the potential for infiltration.


Methods of Groundwater Recharge

There are various methods of groundwater recharge; some of them are discussed below:

  1. Farm Ponds

They act as an effective source of water harvesting in the form of storage to reduce the water crisis in the country.


  1. Check Dams

They are small, temporary dams constructed across a waterway or a drainage ditch to counteract erosion by reducing the speed of water flow.


Groundwater Pollution

Groundwater pollution or groundwater contamination occurs because of human activities, leading to various impacts on the environment.


Some Examples of Groundwater Pollution Are

  1. The presence of a high level of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in water

It may cause dizziness and severe headache.

  1. The building of Radon gas in water

It increases the risk of cancer in humans.

  1. High-level of Arsenic

It may lead to lung cancer in humans.

  1. Chromium VI presence

Increases the risk of cancer in humans and animals

  1. Degreasers and cleaners

They may cause problems like:

  1. Nervous and respiratory damage.

  2. Chemical burns

  3. Digestion problems

    6.  Too much brininess

          Leading to the widespread death of aquatic animals.

    7. Dry cleaning fluid 

        Leading to the increase of risk cancer.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is Groundwater Important?

Groundwater plays a vital role in our environment as it supports rivers, lakes, and wetlands, especially during the dry months. The flow of groundwater into rivers as seepage through the riverbed (known as baseflow) is necessary for wildlife and plants that live in the water.

2. Does Groundwater need to be Treated?

Groundwater contains microorganisms that may be harmful. So, it is required to treat the groundwater before consuming it.

3. Why is it Important to Manage Groundwater?

Groundwater management becomes important to counteract the issues of water scarcity, especially during disasters.

This means the parameter like groundwater management often serves as a reliable source of supply during times of drought and shortage of surface water supplies. Besides, this, groundwater storage capacity can be managed artificially to store additional supplies of water.

4. Is Groundwater Found Everywhere?

Yes, groundwater is found everywhere, under the land surface, and in very high depths.

It is of very good quality and can be ever-present especially in dry conditions only when it is allowed to be recharged. The water can be recharged by precipitation, or other sources, including irrigation and leaks from water supply systems.