Accessing the water you need might be as simple as turning on the faucet, but this isn’t ultimately where your water comes from. In fact, the Earth’s water supply comes from a series of different places—some you might expect, and others you might not. To fully understand the process of obtaining quality drinking water for your home, it’s crucial that you first know these sources. These are the different types of water sources around the globe and how they each play a role in what comes out of your home’s sink.

Surface Water Resources

Surface water resources are the most commonly used method of supplying water to various regions in the United States. This classification primarily includes rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands—all of which contain fresh water rather than saltwater. These sources are easiest to filter, so they produce the highest-quality drinking water for the general public. Plus, another reason we mostly use these resources is their accessibility—many people live near large lakes or streams from which they can easily extract water. Surface water is therefore the most reasonable option for providing homes and businesses with the resources they need to function.

However, people commonly use rivers and lakes for recreational activities such as swimming and fishing; these places also play a part in the industrial manufacturing processes. As such, water from these sources requires extensive sterilization before it’s ready for consumption and use.

Groundwater Resources

Believe it or not, there’s actually a larger source of water underneath your feet than there is in all the rivers and lakes combined. However, we rarely get to tap into these sources due to how difficult they are to reach. Groundwater fills the cracks in bedrock and sand beneath the surface, making contaminants tedious to filter out in large quantities. These sources also saturate soil and contain so much sediment that the water must undergo a thorough filtration process to even become drinkable. So, while groundwater is the main source of plant hydration, it’s not often a sustainable option for people. Fortunately, we aren’t completely cut off from groundwater sources—many of them feed some of our surface water supplies through underground springs.

Stormwater Resources

Otherwise known as runoff or rainwater, stormwater is water that comes from heavy weather such as rain, snow, and hail. This water flows over the land and, in the process, collects a variety of pollutants such as engine oil, fertilizer, and pesticides. As it picks up these contaminants, it eventually gathers in different areas, potentially combining with some of our other water sources. For this reason, stormwater—and water from any other type of source—must undergo a series of tests that properly identify and filter out dangerous toxins. In addition, since the majority of this water flows back into the oceans, capturing it beforehand is a great way to increase our overall water supply on land. For this reason, many sustainability experts have researched different ways to collect this water and filter it before it washes away.

Wastewater Resources

You might not initially think of it as an option, but wastewater is another type of water source in the world. This is the water we use for our household, manufacturing, and agricultural activities; it’s then disposed of through our drains and local sewage systems. Because this water has already been used, it may contain several potentially toxic elements that must be filtered out and disposed of before the water can be used again. Unfortunately, while recycling water is a common practice in various communities, most wastewater still gets dumped in local surface water resources. This contaminates them and makes it even more difficult to filter out all the contaminants. For this reason, conservation efforts to stop businesses from dumping wastewater into lakes and rivers are on the rise. Preventing this practice better maintains the amount of water for us to live off of.

Saltwater Resources

It’s common knowledge that our oceans make up over 70 percent of the planet. However, the salty, abrasive nature of this water makes using it for any of our current processes extremely difficult. In fact, the amount of salt present in ocean water makes it impossible for us to safely drink it in large enough quantities to survive. This is why we dominantly rely on freshwater sources to supply us with the water we need to drink. Fortunately, recent advances in filtration technology have yielded more effective ways to dilute saltwater and remove the acidity that prevents us from using it. Still, desalination plants are low in number due to the amount of energy this filtration process requires. Further evolution of these tools will make the process more sustainable and easier to repeat.

Ice Cap Water Resources

Shockingly, it’s theoretically possible for us to retrieve some water from the polar ice caps and glaciers. These large bodies of ice float through the oceans, but they actually consist of fresh water. This makes them some of our most ideal resources—if we can develop reliable ways to tap into them. Unfortunately, the glaciers are too far away for us to regularly utilize, and we have yet to come up with an effective way to melt them. The process of even reaching these territories is too much of an economical burden to be sustainable for long periods. In addition to this, the polar ice caps are crucial to regulating the Earth’s surface temperature. Going through the effort of melting them would ultimately throw our global temperatures out of balance and do more harm than good.

By appreciating these water sources, you can gain a further understanding of what it means to have clean, refreshing water to drink each day. The process water goes through to reach your faucet is a long one, and we at H2O Coolers want to better hone this process in your own home or office. Our bottle-less hot and cold water dispenser services in NYC not only purify any existing toxins from your water supply, but also turn your water into meta-water. With our advanced filtration process, you can greatly increase the benefits you receive just from drinking your own tap water.

Different Types of Water Sources