Clean Water

Visit these pages to find out more about how schools can impact the water in their neighborhoods and region.

Here are some basic definitions:

Ground water - When rain falls to the ground, the water does not stop moving. Some of it flows along the land surface to streams or lakes, some is used by plants. Some evaporates and returns to the atmosphere. And some seeps underground, into pores between dirt, sand, clay and rock formations called aquifers. Water moves through aquifers much like a glass of water poured onto a pile of sand.
Many communities obtain their drinking water from aquifers. Water suppliers drill wells through soil and rock into aquifers to reach the ground and supply the public with drinking water. Many homes also have their own private wells drilled on their property to tap this supply. Unfortunately, the ground water can become contaminated by human activity. These chemicals can enter the soil and rock, polluting the aquifer and eventually the well.

Storm water is water that originates during rain or snow events.  Stormwater that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff, which either flows directly into surface waterways or is channeled into storm sewers, which eventually discharge to surface waters.  Stormwater is of concern for two main issues: one related to the volume and timing of runoff water (flooding) and the other related to potential contaminants that the water is carrying, i.e. water pollution.

Waste water is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by human activity. In buildings or cities, wastewater is usually collected and transported through pipes in a "combined sewer" or "sanitary sewer," and then treated to make it safe at a wastewater treatment plant.

What is a Watershed? A watershed is the area of land that rain and snowmelt flows over on its way to entering a lake, river or wetland. Even if your home is not next to a lake, river or wetland, you still live in a watershed.

More detailed information can be found in the pages on the Safe Drinking Water Act,  Clean Water Act, and Stormwater Dictionary.