Have you ever wondered what happens when there is groundwater pollution? Many people (about 40% of the US population) rely on groundwater for their main source of drinking water and around 400 billion gallons of it are used every day in this country.
What is groundwater?The Earth only consists of 3% fresh water, most of which is found underground — and this is called groundwater. Groundwater can be found in subterranean rivers, or can be found in lakes under the surface or even extracted from porous pockets in the bedrock.
Groundwater pollution: When groundwater pollution occurs, water treatment companies use various groundwater remediation techniques (such as water treatment chemicals) in order to remove water pollution caused by industrial waste, for example.
About groundwater remediation: Remediation and environmental cleanup services have been estimated to generate around $18 billion every year in the US, and the industry grew by at least 6.3% annually from 2009 to 2014 due to high levels of groundwater contamination across the country. As a result, groundwater remediation techniques are increasingly needed to keep the population save from diseases and infections.
Groundwater remediation techniques: Although there are many techniques used, here are five common treatment processes.
- Bioremediation. This technique uses microorganisms to degrade any organic pollutants found in soil, sludge, solids, and especially groundwater. These small, yet super, organisms break down the toxic chemicals by using them as energy, or food. They thrive off of these toxins in the form of redox reactions, which include respiration and other biological functions needed for cells to function.
- Fracturing. Although this technique has created a bad reputation as of late, fracturing (aka “fracking”) helps soil and groundwater cleanup methods work better and more efficiently. This process creates openings in the bedrock or soil. Fracturing is often used to make primary treatment technologies more efficient.
- Air Sparging. Air sparging is when air or pure oxygen is injected through a contaminated aquifer. The air then travels horizontally and vertically through the soil column, which creates an underground channel through which volatile and semivolatile organic contaminants are flushed out into an unsaturated zone.
- Bioreactor Landfill. This remediation technique works to quickly transform and degrade organic waste, such as human waste. Rapidly increasing the waste degradation and stabilization is done in part with liquid and air in order to enhance the microbial processes (which end up breaking down the organic material). There are three types of bioreactor landfills — aerobic, anaerobic, and hybrid.
- Soil Washing. During the soil washing process, contaminants found in fine soil particles are separated from bulk soil in a water-based solution system. They are separated by particle size and form sediment on the bottom of the water system. These contaminant particles are then removed from the water. This technique normally removes organics and heavy metals.