Drinking Water Supply – What affects our water?

surface-runoffThe recent oil pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas last month had residents worried about their drinking water quality. And rightly so. Oil spills are just one of many threats to public health and safety, and the public water supply. However, thankfully, Mayflower’s water supply has been given a clean bill of health by the Arkansas Department of Health. On Friday, April 5, and on Monday, April 8, the ADH Engineering Division collected water samples in Mayflower to test for contaminants. Lance Jones, P.E., the ADH Chief Engineer stated, “There are no elevated levels of contaminants. All results are either no detection or below the…Maximum Contaminant Levels for all parameters tested and indicate there is no contamination of the drinking water from the oil spill.” You can read more about this story here.


Oil spills are just one of the many ways that a town or region’s water supply can be contaminated. Other common non-natural contamination sources are human or animal waste, agricultural runoff from pesticides or fertilizers, industrial waste disposal and landfills. Each of these potential contamination sources can impact the hydrologic cycle, and affect the quality of water sources above or below ground. For towns like Mayflower, Arkansas, whose main water supply is a lake or reservoir, contaminants can enter the water easily through runoff, or direct contact with the water.Water-Cycle


A major portion of water and wastewater treatment revolves around eliminating or reducing contaminants to ensure that the water is safe for it’s intended use. If you suspect your water has been contaminated, you can contact your local public works department or water treatment plant with your questions.