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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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Fort Scott


St. Andrews





Fort Scott

St. Andrews

Tri-County Hospital


Ames Fertilizer Factory

Skunk River


water sources

Water Sources

Your name, school and grade here


where does water come from
Where Does Water Come From?
  • When you get water from a faucet where does it come from?
  • All water comes from one of two places:
    • Ground Water
    • Surface Water
  • Where does your city get its water?
ground water
Ground Water
  • Ground water is water that is below the ground in places called aquifers.
  • An aquifer is a layer of permeable, water-holding gravel or sand beneath the earth’s surface.
  • On top of that layer is a layer of impermeable rock.
  • Can you name a well known aquifer located in Central Texas?
permeable and impermeable rock
Permeable and Impermeable Rock

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.

Top Soil

Impervious Layer (clay)

Water Table

Permeable Rock (sand or gravel)



The water table is the upper limit of the aquifer.

More Clay

ground water dangers
Ground Water Dangers

There are many dangers in obtaining water from the ground.

  • Arsenic is a dangerous element which can be leached from the ground if an aquifer is drawn from too much.
  • Other contaminants such as lead or nitrates can soak into the aquifer by rain water from landfills.

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.

surface water
Surface Water
  • Surface water is any water found on the surface of the earth such as reservoirs, lakes, rivers, oceans, and other.
  • The majority of surface water is not drinkable because it is mostly salt water.
  • Lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are the best sources of fresh water.
  • What are some sources of surface water near you?
how a reservoir works
How a Reservoir Works

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

Manmade Reservoir

Runoff is water that falls on a higher elevation in the form of snow or rain then flows down to the reservoir.

surface water dangers
Surface Water Dangers
  • Surface water is more easily contaminated because it is more exposed to ground water.
  • Contaminants can come from a variety of sources such as factories, landfills, or cities.
  • Arsenic is not as big a problem for surface water as for ground water, but lead and nitrates can contaminate surface water more easily than ground water.

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.

applying your knowledge
Applying Your Knowledge

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

Fort Scott


St. Andrews





Fort Scott

St. Andrews

Tri-County Hospital


Ames Fertilizer Factory

Skunk River


the problem
The Problem

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.

water contaminants
Water Contaminants

To further understand the problem let’s take a closer look at three common contaminants:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Nitrates

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the allowable amount of each contaminant in water.

Lead-Contaminated RunoffLead

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.


Lead Waste

Lead-Contaminated Reservoir


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.


planning an experiment
Planning an Experiment

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

scientific method
Scientific Method
  • Here might be a good place to insert a few slides about the scientific method….
experiment 1
Experiment 1

Here is a list of patients and their illnesses. What trends do you notice?

experiment 123
Experiment 1

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?

experiment 2
Experiment 2

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.

experiment 225
Experiment 2

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?

experiment 3
Experiment 3

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?

experiment 327
Experiment 3

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?

which is best
Which is Best?

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?