Water is vital to so many aspects of human life that ensuring a constant healthy supply is critical. As well as being important in terms of the water which comes from the taps in our homes, clean water is used in various recreation activities and manufacturing industries. Ensuring our ponds, streams, lakes, rivers and underground water sources are kept clean and healthy should be a priority not just for each of us as individuals but for companies across all industries. We all have a role to play in ensuring the water table is maintained in as healthy a condition as possible, and here’s why.
The Water Table Explained
In the simplest terms, the water table is the level at which the ground is saturated with water. As water in the form of precipitation is absorbed by the soil and permeates to deeper layers of the earth, it eventually reaches the surface level and manifests as springs, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. While groundwater levels will often change with the seasons, they are a constant in our lives and provide vital ecosystem habitats for a range of fish, birds, insects and mammals.
Groundwater is used for a whole range of things, from providing the clean drinking water every household relies on to irrigating crops, food production and various manufacturing processes. If contamination occurs and polluted run-off water enters the groundwater, it can permeate down through all levels of the water table with potentially disastrous consequences.
Potential contaminants include toxic chemicals or biological agents from industrial processes, oxygen-hungry decomposing matter, including sewage or inorganic plant nutrients such as the fertilisers which run off farmers’ fields. Herbicides, pesticides, petroleum products, heavy metals, radioactive waste and potentially deadly bacteria can all be caught up in run-off water if not handled correctly, making their way into the clean groundwater supply. For that reason, the importance of monitoring wastewater discharge cannot be underestimated.
Keeping Things Clean
There are strict laws and regulations governing how various bodies should monitor wastewater, all with the intention of reducing the risk of contamination to the water table. Wastewater treatment plants operate under a rigid code of compliance, ensuring influent and effluent water is regularly tested and the data processed in order to keep a constant check on the cleanliness of the water table.
As well as monitoring ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, processing plants ensure optimum oxygen levels are maintained, harmful compounds and elements are eliminated and phosphorus is removed. Many plants rely on highly advanced sensors to achieve this, allowing them to gather accurate data and analyse the results in real time to ensure there is no contamination of the water table.
By monitoring wastewater, industries reduce the risk of inadvertently introducing contaminated water which could cause untold harm to the ecosystem and pollute the clean water we use for drinking and for crops and livestock. If wastewater treatment plants develop a fault or take their eye off the ball, potentially deadly contaminants would eventually enter the food chain – for that reason, monitoring wastewater discharge effectively is crucial to human health and the natural world.