Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter
and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column
Published on 7/15/16, a SamBurlum.com Exclusive
Source: So many bottled water companies claim that their water comes from the best sources; and with all of the different types of water out there for human consumption, it can be confusing. We investigate into where some of the best sources of water comes from, spanning around the world on a search of the planets freshest and cleanest water supplies.
Although 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only one percent is available for fresh drinking water. So where does the best water come from?
Words like “all natural,” and “spring water,” can seem very appetizing, however when it comes to getting a better understanding of where the best sources of water are originated in the world, we need to dig a little deeper, actually sometimes a lot deeper, and sometimes we must look at earths most highest peaks. Most sources of drinking water at that come from the faucet comes from one of two places; surface water or ground water.
Surface water is water that is collected from lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams. This is the case for most major metro urban centers, where they rely on these sources for their fresh drinking water. Ground water on the other hand comes from aquifers (highly permeable rocks, soil, and/or sand) which can be extracted through wells that pump the water to the surface or found as natural fed springs. In places where these resources have been over taxed, waste water is treated and put back into water distribution systems for use. In some areas where fresh water is scarce, salt water is refined into fresh water through the process of desalination.
So where does the ground water come from? Ground water is water that is located under the surface land ground locked up in spaces called pores, which are between rocks, sand, soil, and can be located between cracks and crevices deep below the earth’s surface. In some instances, these water supplies are under such immense pressure, it can spring up through the surface on their own. In most cases, a well must be dug, and water must be pumped to the surface. Most of these types of water pockets are trapped in what is known as aquifers. There are two common types of aquifers; sand and gravel aquifers and bedrock aquifers. Water found in sand and gravel is located where water is trapped between the individual chunks of gravel and grains of sand. In situations of bedrock aquifers, most water is found along fractures within the rock, joints, voids, and valleys between different slides of rock formations. This is the hardest of water to drill for since this water is surrounded by more solid material, however this water usually is more pure than sand and gravel aquifers because just as much as it traps water within, it blocks other materials from seeping into these spaces.
How ground water is replenished, is process of natural cycles. Rain water, melting snow and ice seep through the layers of soil and make their way into these natural aquifers. Most water that enters topsoil layers is absorbed by plant life; some water is held by the soil as topsoil acts as a natural sponge. The rest of the water moves down into the layers of the aquifer. In order for water to be allowed to flow to a well or a stream, an aquifer must be at its maximum potential. The surface of these aquifers, which leak water into wells, streams, and springs, is called the water table; which is the very top of where water levels are located. In cases where there is an over-abundance of surface water, streams, ponds, and lakes begin to take shape.
This natural “factory,” an eco-system that regenerates water and produces our most valuable resource is extremely sensitive. This is why our number one concern is how do we properly handle waste management, surface runoff, and limit the number of harmful toxins we introduce to this cycle.
Surface water is usually categorized as water that comes from streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Surface water is more preferred since it is less expensive to extract, collect, and redistribute to faucets of households. Because surface water is more available, and does not have any natural barriers to help filter pollution or containments, it must be property treated using both chemical and mechanical filtration processes. Surface water is more sensitive and susceptible to pollution due to it being out in the “open.” Brownsfields, which are properties contaminated by pollution in the ground, are monitored, so that run off contamination does not seep into surface water supplies.
Artesian wells are a pumpless water source that uses pipes to allow underground water that is under natural pressure that pushes it to the surface. Scientist say this type of well defies the laws of gravity, because the pressure that builds up between layers of rock has a chance to subside when water finds at path to the surface. This water is considered one of the most pure sources since the water from and artesian well becomes naturally filters as it passes through porous rock. Artesian wells are very popular due to their lack of needed infrastructure to access the water from these sources. This form of water source needs minimal filtration and can be brought to the surface with little or no effort.
The most pure of water supplies, which equates two-thirds of the available fresh drinking water for human consumption, is trapped inside frozen ice caps, icebergs, and glaciers. Knowing this, countries within the artic circles, have the most valuable water, as those with the highest elevated mountain regions which have the most snow fall. Yet is takes many years for this water source to reach a point where humans can access it.
The Institute of Earth Sciences, located at Germany’s Heidelberg University, claims that the cleanest and most pure water source within the article circle is located in the small village of Elmvale, Ontario. The reason for this is that this water is accessible and contains less atmospheric lead than any other source within the Article Circle.
Water located under Mt. Fuji, in Japan is considered one of the most pure sources in the Pacific. Located under the famous volcano, just 600 meters below the surface is the natural spring that provides this fresh water natural resource.
The Andes Mountains and Valleys contain some of the most pure water in the world, due to the minimal human urban development. With far and between modern manufacturing, and the added bonus of ice caps, snow caps, and glaciers, water that makes it into these aquifers have had minimal contact with any man made infrastructure or human influence (waste water, pollution, toxic run off, etc.).
The countries of Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Fiji, Norway, Austria, Sweden, and New Zealand are deemed to have the richest and pure water sources in the world, both from ground water, surface water, and when it is delivered to the tap.
Countries to have the worst water quality include Mexico, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, and India; due to the high concentrations of manmade pollution that has found its way into water sources. Years of abusive land management practices, harsh agriculture (due to the over usage of fertilizers and chemicals), poor waste management, manufacturing and mining pollution had been major contributing factors to why the majority of these countries water supplies have been compromised.
Poor water quality has a significant impact on human health. Many poisonous and fatal bacteria, viruses, and disease thrive in dirty water conditions. Insects that carry harmful illnesses and disease find haven in polluted water sources which only makes matters worse. As human beings we have a social responsibility to contain as much of our negative influences upon fresh water sources as much as possible, and curb practices that compromise both surface and ground water resources. To ignore our own findings from professionals, advocates, and schools of thought about the importance of preserving fresh water sources will only lead to our own demise. We should not discount these warnings and take responsibility for protecting the most important natural resource to our existence.