Fact Checked

What are the Different Types of Groundwater Problems?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

Water beneath the earth's surface is groundwater, and it is often regarded as a valuable resource. Although underground water can help people in many ways, there are often a number of groundwater problems that people may have to deal with. These include over consumption, contamination, and property damage.

There are various sources of underground water. Supplies could be the result of water that passes through the soil after precipitation falls. There may also be underground springs or water derived from permafrost.

A dry spell can cause the water table to drop significantly.
A dry spell can cause the water table to drop significantly.

These water supplies are used by different people for different reasons. People dig wells for domestic use. Municipalities extract water to supply households that do not have personal wells. Businesses, such as farms and carwashes, are also reliant on large quantities of water, which they usually get from municipal sources.

Although groundwater is generally considered to be a renewable resource, meaning that supplies will be replenished, there are possibilities that groundwater problems can arise when these resources are overused. Natural replenishment does not mean that supplies are unlimited. If too much water is used before sustainable levels can be restored, users may find themselves dealing with shortages. In some cases, wells may have to be dug deeper to access new supplies.

Other groundwater problems can result when water supplies become contaminated. Pollution on the surface is one source of contamination. Toxins can filter down into the water and make it unsuitable for consumption. In other cases, water can become contaminated by waste buried in landfills, by run off from agriculture, and by contact with seawater.

Groundwater problems that are caused by contamination can pose serious health risks. Agricultural runoff that contains animal feces, for example, can result in human gastrointestinal infections. Toxic contamination can result in more severe health problems such as cancer and birth defects. Contaminated groundwater can also pose threats to livestock, which can affect the food supply.

In addition to problems with groundwater, other problems can be caused by groundwater. Groundwater can cause property damage, for example. This is often true with buildings that have basements. Sometimes the soil gets overly saturated with backed up storm water from a sewage system. At other times, over saturation of the soil may be the result of inadequate drainage on a property.

The damage is often caused when water from the soil seeps through holes or cracks that are found in the floor. These entry points do not have to be big or noticeable to result in groundwater problems. Once an area of flooring is damp, the moisture can seep into walls or the bottoms of furniture, which can cause these items to rot.

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Discussion Comments


I'm curious about something. When there are leaks from nuclear facilities and this gets in the air and also rain water, will it also trickle down through the soil into groundwater?

I heard that when there are such leaks, people are warned to leave those areas and also not to go outside while it is raining because the rain water is contaminated. Since rain water is one of the main sources of groundwater, it will probably contaminate it right? It would be a disaster if people used that water afterward.


I don't think that human activity is the only reason for groundwater problems. We probably make some of the problems worse by overusing groundwater and other substances in our daily life.

But I remember from chemical science class, we learned that arsenic is found naturally in groundwater for example. Too much arsenic can have very dangerous effects on our health too. But we are not responsible for all of the arsenic found in groundwater.


There is a non-profit organization that has been warning farmers in our area not to use excessive fertilizer on the land. My uncle was telling me that they are an environmentally conscious group and are trying to warn people about using too much fertilizer and pesticide. They have passed out handouts to everyone in the community.

I never knew this but apparently when farmers use too much fertilizer it contaminates groundwater and increases a substance called nitrate in it. Nitrates can cause a lot of health problems for us like effecting thyroid and blood pressure. It's said to be very dangerous for babies also, it causes something called blue baby syndrome.

It's so nice for this organization to inform us like this. Most people have never heard of fertilizer causing groundwater issues.

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    • A dry spell can cause the water table to drop significantly.
      By: kentauros
      A dry spell can cause the water table to drop significantly.