B Impacts on domestic water supplies

Although only a very small amount of the water taken for domestic purposes is used for drinking, it is because of this use that domestic water is of the utmost concern and has the most stringent quality requirements.

Water withdrawn from surface watercourses for domestic or municipal supply is almost always treated to some degree to remove contaminants. In the case of individual home water supplies, this treatment might only involve chlorination to destroy pathogens or other organisms. Municipal water supplies are generally treated more extensively. Water quality concerns for domestic supplies should never be taken lightly. Failure of supplies to meet standards for even short periods of time can result in serious illness.

Quality requirements for domestic drinking water are determined by the EPA and, in some instances, include modifications and additions from the State health department. Water quality regulations for domestic supplies can be divided into two categories: primary standards related to health concerns and secondary standards pertaining to aesthetic interests.

Health associated regulations often relate to toxic levels of manmade and natural substances. Under the 1986 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA set primary standards for 83 contaminants. Some of the substances that are associated with agriculture include nitrate, bacteria, selenium, lindane, toxaphene, 2-4,D, aldicarb, alachlor, carbofuran, simazine, atr-azine, picloram, dalapon, diquat, and dinoseb. Those regulations aimed primarily at aesthetics include such substances as foaming agents, pH, and total dissolved solids.

The primary and secondary standards for drinking water for specific constituents are listed in table 1-4.

Surface water, especially streams, often contains many complex mixes of pollutants that are difficult to remove because levels vary widely over time. Therefore, the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments require that all public drinking supplies from surface water undergo filtration and disinfection treatment.

Ground water, however, tends to maintain a quality that remains relatively constant over time, and some substances are not present or occur only at low levels. Soil filtration removes most turbidity, color, and micro-organisms, and some chemicals can be absorbed by the soil. Because of the natural purification of water as it percolates through soil, ground water is often used as a domestic supply with little treatment. However, ground water monitoring programs have recently increased because of the growing concern that this water supply source may not always be as safe as previously assumed. One of the primary problems of using ground water for domestic purposes is the lack of localized water quality information. Furthermore, localized ground water quality can be radically affected by a local source of contaminant, such as nitrate from confined livestock or other NPS.

Some of the constituents in deep ground water aquifers are associated with agricultural chemicals, but generally not livestock waste. Nitrate is the primary constituent that can pollute ground water and have manure as its source. Water contaminated by nitrate can be treated with an ion exchange process to remove the contaminant, but this can be an expensive process and is not practical for many areas.

Under certain situations livestock waste can be a source of ground water pollution other than nitrate contamination. For example, shallow aquifers that supply dug wells can be contaminated by animal waste. Aquifers overlain by porous materials, such as gravel or some types of limestone, allow pollutants to be easily transported to the ground water. In some

Table 1-4


Selected primary and secondary drinking water standards as specified by the EPA

Maximum allowed

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