Understanding Your Water

Water Management – Do You Understand What it Takes to Get to the Tap?

Water Management - From Source to TapYou turn on your tap and out comes clean, drinkable and safe water for you and your family. You rely on this water for cooking and cleaning and everything in between. But have you ever stopped to think about just what it took to get your water there? Water management brought it to you and it’s an important and often overlooked process. Let’s break down the water management process so you can better understand how you got that glass of water you’re holding.

Water Sources

Water management begins with finding and identifying sources of water. Water comes from either surface water sources such as lakes and rivers or ground water sources like aquifers, wells and springs. Water management agencies tap these sources diverting water to a treatment or storage facility. Some communities have several sources of water to draw upon depending on the season.

Water Storage

A community needs to store water somewhere. Reservoirs are a common storage method as are water towers. Reservoirs require a lot of land and also lose significant amounts of water to evaporation. Underground storage aquifers are also used, eliminating both the need for a large piece of land and reducing evaporation.

Water Treatment

Water is often not safe to drink directly from the source so the water management system includes a series of water treatment process to convert water from a well or river to potable water. Water treatment includes four key stages.

  1. After the water passes through a screen to remove larger objects. A coagulating agent is added to cause small particles to clump together.
  2. The water then goes to a calm tank where the coagulated particles can settle to the bottom.
  3. Next, the water goes through a series of filters such as sand, membranes or other materials.
  4. Lastly, your water company disinfects the water with chemical additives, chlorine, ultraviolet light, ozone or other processes to make the water safe to drink.

Water Delivery

Once the water is safe to drink, your water company needs to deliver it to your home. Water distribution systems are both extensive and sophisticated and involve the coordination of several municipal organizations. The water travels through pumps, pipes, valves and meters and eventually comes out of the taps in your home.

Water Conservation

Water management includes water conversation. Water is, after all, a finite resource. Water management systems continuously look for ways to more efficiently and effectively deliver the water available to a community. This could include education to change water use habits, reducing leaks in the system and encouraging the use of low flow fixtures.

The next time you turn on your tap, flush your toilet or do a load of laundry, stop and consider the time and effort it took to deliver clean water to your home. Water management involves everyone in the community and the more you understand the water treatment process, the more you can act as an informed water user.