Water Contamination- How Far Do Pollutants Reach?

Water Contamination- How Far Do Pollutants Reach?

Human activities are the most common causes of drinking water contamination. While the groundwater below the Earth’s surface is typically well-protected by rock and soil, pollutants which seep into the ground can penetrate these below-ground water stores and contaminate the water we depend on.

Even a small amount of a substance can cause extensive water contamination.

  • Spilling a single gallon of oil can contaminate as much as one million gallons of water. Spilling a pint of oil in a wetland or lake could cover the surface area of an acre of water.
  • A single gallon of gasoline can contaminate 750,000 gallons of water.

Protecting Against Water Contamination

Gas, fuel oil, and diesel can travel swiftly through the Earth’s surface layers to contaminate groundwater. We can each do our part to protect groundwater stores by acting carefully when using these common sources of water contamination.

  • When fueling equipment or draining fuel, only do so on a concrete pad, rather than directly on the ground. Make sure you have the proper cleanup supplies on hand and close by in case of a spill. For marine vehicles, fuel them on shore rather than in the water.
  • Always store fuels in approved containers which are clearly marked. It should have a spout to help you avoid spills when pouring and a funnel should be used as necessary. Tanks and storage containers should be inspected routinely to check for leaks and condition.
  • Never store gasoline or oil near water wells or surface waters. Do not store tanks directly on the ground for extended time periods.
  • If you have above ground storage tanks on your personal or business property, take protective measures to prevent groundwater contamination. Your storage tanks should always be protected by a secondary containment area. This area will work to prevent contamination, should a spill occur. Containment areas should have the capacity to hold 110 percent of the largest tank’s contents, plus precipitation. After it rains or snows, check precipitation which has gathered within the secondary containment area. Inspect it to see if chemicals or fuel are present, which indicates leaking storage tanks. Note fuel levels in tanks whenever making a withdrawal, as well as the amount of fuel withdrawn. Next time you make a withdrawal, make sure the volume of fuel left in the tank has not dipped since the last use.

Additional information from Indiana American Water on how to protect our precious water resources is available by clicking the download button below.