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Where does YOUR water come from? > Surface Water > Groundwater > Water Treatment

How did your day begin? After rolling out of bed, perhaps you went to the bathroom, took a shower, brushed your teeth, and got dressed for school. In the kitchen, there may have been a pot of coffee brewing and someone at the sink rinsing dishes. Maybe you were asked you to gather your dirty clothes for the washing machine. As you left home, somewhere on the block there may have been a sprinkler watering grass.

Now, imagine starting your day over again without water.

You couldn't shower or brush your teeth. Very quickly you would be faced with the problem of a toilet that didn't work. What would you drink and eat for breakfast? You couldn't drink orange juice, because oranges grow on trees that need water. You couldn't drink milk. Cows feed on grass that needs water, and cows need water to drink too. At least you wouldn't have to gather your dirty clothes for the washing machine. There would be no water to wash them! In fact, if there was no water, you may not have made it to school. Cars and buses use water to keep their engines cool.

How many other ways would your life be affected?

Do you know where the water you drink and use comes from?

If you live in the Piedmont region of the Altamaha River watershed (see map), your water probably comes from surface water. If you live in the Coastal region (see map), your source of water is probably groundwater.

Different sources of water have different costs and benefits. Groundwater needs to be pumped to the surface, however this water is relatively clean. Surface water requires a lot of treatment to clean it, but the water is easy to reach. For many people, local geology often determines whether their water comes from groundwater or from surface water.

Local rivers provide the main source of drinkable water in the Piedmont region. It is difficult to obtain groundwater here because of the region's geology. The landscape is hilly, and the thick clay soil does not absorb much water. Most rainwater flows downhill into streams and rivers.

Surface water needs to be treated in order for it to be safe to drink and use. Water treatment facilities are special types of industrial plants that filter and clean water. Several are located along the rivers of the Altamaha River watershed. At each facility, river water is withdrawn and cleaned. The facilities provide clean water to the local cities and towns.

In the Coastal region, most clean water is supplied by groundwater. Most rain that falls here seeps into the ground. The landscape is flat. The porous, sandy soil allows water to trickle deep into the ground.

The Floridan aquifer (see map) is the main source of drinkable water in this region. Deep wells are drilled to the depth of the aquifer, and water is pumped to the surface. Groundwater is pretty clean. The only cleaning treatment the water receives, usually, is the addition of chlorine.

In both the Piedmont and Coastal regions there are a small number of people who get drinkable water from wells on their property.