Indiana Tap Water SourcesThe cycle of our city tap water starts with local water sources. Water from rivers, streams, and reservoirs is called surface water, but source water from aquifers is groundwater. For the northside of Indianapolis those primary water sources are the White River, the Indiana Central Canal, and the Reservoirs of Geist, Morse, and Eagle Creek. The latest source water protection efforts try to minimize these contaminants, but there’s still a lot to be done to keep our water safe.
Surface Water ContaminantsSurface water contaminants come from parking lots and roads, farms, and our own backyards. All of this is considered to be nonpoint source pollution. It’s often unintentional, but still a big problem for our water sources. Humans add contaminants like oil, pesticides, road salt, bacteria, and sediment to our streams and surface water sources every day. That’s because rainwater and snowmelt washes over our fertilized yards and farmland, oil-slicked driveways and roads, and industrial sites. Nonpoint source pollution tends to fall into two categories: urban and agricultural. Manufacturing facilities, farming activities, and animal production operations have a direct impact on local water since they often add pesticides, nitrogen, phosphorus, and fecal contamination to nearby source water supplies. This is especially true in Indiana, because almost 70 percent of our land has agricultural uses.
Groundwater ContaminantsContaminants more often related to groundwater can come from landfill problems, chemical spills, and other sources. In our state, using groundwater as our source water is the norm. About two-thirds of Indiana’s population get their tap water from groundwater aquifers, so it’s crucial that we protect them. As with surface water, groundwater contaminants also include gasoline, oil, and road salts. These substances seep into our underground aquifers and contaminate the source water. Families who get their water from a well—not from the city’s tap water—must be especially careful with contaminated groundwater. Without the proper screening and filtration in place, well water can be full of toxins from septic systems or landfill leaks.
Protecting Our WaterBecause both groundwater and surface water can have their own list of contaminants, the city needs to treat our water needs at a plant before distributing it to our homes. But even then, our tap water can still retain contaminants that we’d rather not drink, including some water treatment additives. The plants add special types of chlorine to prevent the water from picking up bacteria as it travels through the pipes, as well as fluoride. Our water treatment process was designed to remove high level of contaminants in our source water. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to regulate these issues. As more contaminants enter our source water, it’s harder (and more costly) to rely solely on municipal treatments to keep our tap water safe. Here are some simple ways to help keep your own home tap protected from surface water and groundwater contaminants:
1. Pick up pet waste in your yard—it can act as a microbiological contaminant in groundwater.
2. Use low-phosphorus fertilizer, or eliminate it altogether—the runoff can create algae and other problems in our surface water.
3. Maintain your septic system (if you have one)—overload can cause contaminants to leach into our groundwater.
4. Follow directions and limit insecticide and herbicide use—pesticides have serious health risks and are contaminating all of our water sources.
5. Invest in a home filter—a powerful drinking water filtration system can help eliminate any contaminants left in your tap water after treatment.
Together we can help protect our water sources from further pollution. Thanks for doing your part!