We all know that groundwater is a valuable resource that lies beneath most land surfaces and that about 90% of the rural population relies heavily on groundwater for their households. Without it, they could not live.

Due to the importance and vulnerability of groundwater, we will discuss some basic information about how water develops below the ground’s surface. In turn, you can use this knowledge to protect your groundwater so that your family and future generations can continue to depend on this priceless resource.

As well, understanding the basics about groundwater makes it clearer why it’s so important to know where to look for water.

What is Groundwater?

Groundwater is sub-surface water that fills pore spaces and openings in rock and soil layers.

How Does Groundwater Come to Be?

Groundwater is one part of the earth’s water cycle. The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, involves the movement of water in the form of water vapour, snow, rain, surface and ground water.

Water is continuously circulating from the surface of the earth into the atmosphere and back down as precipitation. Some of the water that falls as precipitation penetrates the ground, thus becoming groundwater.

The ground is layered as follows:

  • Below the ground’s surface is an unsaturated zone, which the water travels through to reach lower zones.
  • The water table is the point at which the ground is completely saturated.
  • Below this saturated level, the pore spaces between every grain of rock and soil crevice completely fill with water.

Aquifers and Aquicludes

The layers of rock and soil below the water table are classified in two categories:

  • Aquifers: Water bearing layers that yield water to wells in usable amounts. They are usually made of sandstone, sand, or gravel. They have large pore spaces between grains that water moves freely.
  • Aquicludes: Water bearing formations that cannot yield adequate amounts of water for wells. Examples are unfractured coal and shale and clay. The pore spaces are so tiny that the water moves very slowly.

The Flow of Groundwater

Groundwater continuously moves, often extremely slow. Due to gravity, it moves from higher areas to lower elevations.

Knowing the direction of groundwater flow is increasingly important because of the danger of contamination to groundwater supplies. Shallow water table aquifers are more prone to surface contaminants such as petroleum products, sewage, manure and pesticides when they enter the ground at higher elevations than the water well. Thus proper well location and separation distances from potential contaminants reduce this risk.

Factors that Affect Groundwater Quality:

  • Depth from the surface
  • Climatic variations
  • Chemical makeup of the sediments through which groundwater moves

As you can see, there are many factors involved in water well drilling, so it’s best to hire a professional.

If you need to drill a well and want to find the best water source, call American Water Surveyors at 877-SEISMO1 (734-7661), or email us at info@wefindwater.com . We are an American water surveying company that uses state-of-the-art equipment. For more information check out our website.