What We Can All Do To Reduce Groundwater Pollution

Why Groundwater is Important

Groundwater has been called the great hidden resource.  It conjures up images of vast underground rivers or lakes, pure and pristine, flowing from distant places.  In fact, groundwater is quite different from that.  It’s more like the water within a saturated sponge, moving slowly through the earth’s pores and cracks and it is replenished locally.  Most available fresh water is groundwater.  Groundwater is an important source for our drinking water and stream flow.  Although most of our groundwater supplies are clean, they are, due to human neglect and carelessness, vulnerable and threatened. 

Some facts and fictions about ground water: 

  • groundwater is inexhaustible
  • groundwater moves in strange and unknown ways
  • spring water is always pure
  • groundwater comes from underground rivers
  • groundwater moves long distances within the earth in Connecticut
  • use can exceed supply, drying up streams and wells
  • groundwater flow can be investigated and determined
  • it can be polluted like all water
  • it is recharged locally from precipitation falling on surrounding land areas
  • it rarely moves more than a few miles, but can take years to flow that far

What can I do to reduce pollution? 

Groundwater contamination can last for years and be difficult and expensive to clean up. Pollution prevention is the key. We urge you to look at the ways you can help.

At home

  • properly dispose of all waste; don’t dump chemicals down drains or on the ground
  • test underground fuel oil tanks for leaks; if possible, replace them above ground
  • safely store all chemicals and fuels
  • minimize the use of chemicals; always use according to directions
  • have on-site septic systems pumped and inspected every five years
  • examine on-site wells and surrounding land areas; test wells as often as pollution risk demands

At work

Waste disposal:
  • properly dispose of all waste
  • ensure proper waste water discharge connections; if possible, eliminate floor drains
  • properly use and maintain on-site septic systems
  • plug and cover waste dumpsters

Hazardous materials:

  • safely store, handle, and use chemicals and fuels
  • monitor underground fuel and chemical tanks; if possible, replace above ground
  • contain storage and loading areas
  • reduce or substitute use of chemicals

Storm water:

  • keep chemicals and waste safe from rain
  • isolate drains from storage and loading areas
  • use deicing salt and pesticides sparingly

Other good management practices:

  • conduct an environmental audit
  • develop a pollution prevention plan
  • regularly inspect high risk areas
  • devise an emergency response plan

In town

  • ensure that land use plans and regulations protect important water supply aquifers and well fields
  • support protection legislation and programs
  • inform and educate residents and businesses about groundwater
  • consider important aquifers when acquiring open space
  • monitor and inspect important well fields and recharge areas
  • conduct household hazardous waste collections
  • ensure that town facilities practice good pollution prevention

For additional information, contact

Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106-5127
Telephone: 860-424-3020

or contact your local environmental or health official.

Understanding Groundwater