Fort Scott Aquifer. St. Andrews Reservoir. 2. Landfill. 1. Fort Scott. St. Andrews. Tri-County Hospital. 3. Ames Fertilizer Factory. Skunk River. Ames. Water Sources. Your name, school and grade here Date. Where Does Water Come From?.
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Ames Fertilizer Factory
Your name, school and grade here
A permeable layer is a layer of the ground that holds water and allows it to flow freely. An example of a permeable layer is gravel or sand.
An impermeable layer is a layer of the ground that does not hold water and does not allow it to pass. An example of an impermeable layer is clay.
How an Aquifer Works
Water from the aquifer is obtained by digging a well to the level of the water and then drawing it out often by a pump.
Impervious Layer (clay)
Permeable Rock (sand or gravel)
The water table is the upper limit of the aquifer.
There are many dangers in obtaining water from the ground.
Another big problem with getting water from the ground is subsidence. As water is removed from the ground the ground sinks, or subsides, which causes problems for buildings and eventually flooding in some cities.
This is an illustration of a city on a lake which gets its water from the ground. Once the city sinks below the level of the lake there is nothing to stop the lake from flooding the city. If this city used water from the lake it would not face this problem.
Reservoirs are manmade lakes often made from damming a river or other water source. Reservoirs are built to retain more water to provide the people nearby with enough drinking water.
Runoff from mountains supplies reservoir with fresh water
Runoff is water that falls on a higher elevation in the form of snow or rain then flows down to the reservoir.
Droughts can be a major problem for using surface water as a water source. If the source of water is not replenished by rain or runoff it can be drained.
Remember the town from before? This time they use the water from the lake, but do not allow the lake to be replenished. Soon they are left with no water if the water is not replenished by runoff or rain.
Let’s apply what we have learned by solving a problem in the three cities of Tri-County.
The cities of Tri-County are Ames, St. Andrews, and Fort Scott. Each city has a different source of water:
Ames source of water is a River
St. Andrews source of water is a Reservoir
Fort Scott source of water is an Aquifer
Ames Fertilizer Factory
A hospital that services all three cities has been noticing an unusual number of patients with diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and newborns with birth disorders.
The doctors suspect that the illnesses are being caused by contaminated water, but don’t know where the contaminated water is, or how it is being contaminated.
To further understand the problem let’s take a closer look at three common contaminants:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the allowable amount of each contaminant in water.
Lead is a metal that often contaminates water through old pipes. It can also contaminate surface water if waste containing lead is allowed to sit near the source of water.
Here the water is poisoned by lead-contaminated runoff from a landfill.
Arsenic is an element primarily found in ground water. When water is drawn from the ground too quickly arsenic is leached into the aquifer.
In this example the city’s water is contaminated by arsenic that has been seeped into the aquifer
Nitrates are a compound used as pesticides. They are mass-produced in factories and can often contaminate nearby water sources.
The factory upstream of the city dumps nitrates into the river. The nitrates contaminate the city’s water supply as they flow downstream.
To determine what the contaminant is and where it is coming from, we must conduct an experiment. How would you discover the source?
1. See if there is a trend in sick patients
2. Test each city’s water supply for common contaminants
3. Determine the contaminant by diagnosing patients’ illnesses
Here is a list of patients and their illnesses. What trends do you notice?
After looking at the list of patients, their illnesses, and their hometowns what do you notice? What does this imply?
Knowing what you know about how different water sources can become contaminated what would you hypothesize the contaminant is? What would you do to test your hypothesis?
The results from testing the water supplies were as follows:
The EPA limits the amount of lead in water to 15 ppb, arsenic to 50 ppb, and nitrates to 10,000 ppb. By January 2006 the arsenic limit will be lowered to 10 ppb.
From the tests for contaminants in each city’s water what did you determine to be the contaminant?
What city would you guess the patients at the hospital were from? Why?
Look up the health risks from the three most common water contaminants: lead, nitrates, and arsenic. Which best fits the illnesses described by the doctors?
How would you determine which city has the contaminated water now that you know the contaminant?
After determining that the contaminant is arsenic tests of each city’s water revealed how much arsenic is in their water.
From this information where do you think most of the patients live?
So is ground water or surface water a better source of water?
It really depends on the location. Maybe some cities should even use a little of both.
What do you think your city should do?