Groundwater is the water found below the Earth’s surface in the cracks and spaces between soil, sand, and rock. The area where the water is stored underground between the soil, sand, and rocks is called an aquifer. Groundwater is a very important resource to our everyday lives as it supplies over half of the drinking water for the total US population and nearly all of the drinking water for those that live in rural areas. It is also important for many industrial processes, as well as irrigation for growing crops.
Many communities throughout the US obtain their drinking water from aquifers. Wells are drilled through the soil and rock into the aquifer, so that the water can be brought above ground to supply the public. Groundwater, however, can become contaminated by human actions, which is why many neighborhoods have Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPA).
>Wellhead Protection Areas are areas designated to protect public water supply wells from contaminants that could harmful to humans. These areas are protected by placing limitations on chemical storage and land use activities in the area that contributes water to the well or wellfield. WHPAs are designed to protect all or part of the surrounding area from which a well’s water is drawn.
The size of each WHPA varies depending on a number of factors including geologic and hydrologic features. Wellhead Protection Areas are regularly inventoried for potential sources, monitored for specific contaminates, and existing and future land uses are managed to protect the area as much as possible.
Resources for further information: