Where does our water come from?

The water you use every day comes from two different sources: the ground or the surface.

What is ground water?

Ground water is water that is under the ground. But, how does it get there?

When it rains, water lands on the ground and starts to soak through the earth. It moves through the layers of soil deeper into the rocks where eventually it can’t go any further. The water collects and forms an ‘aquifer’. Most of our water comes from aquifers. To use the water, we need to bring it to the surface. This can be done by digging a well, creating a bore or using pumps.

Bores are large metal wells or holes, drilled into rocks to bring the water up from under the ground. This water may not be cleaned or filtered so it shouldn’t be used for drinking but it can be used for watering the garden and washing cars or clothes. Only bore water that has been tested by a specialist and approved can be used for drinking.

There is more information about ground water in the PDF below.

What is surface water?

Unsafe rainwater

Surface water is water that collects on the surface of the Earth after it rains. This could be in a river, lake, dam, reservoir or waterhole. The ocean is also a form of surface water, but it is salty, not fresh.

Surface water is not safe to drink as it may contain bugs, dirt, rocks, minerals and/or chemicals. People may swim in these places, animals will drink from them and bathe in them so they may even contain animal droppings. This water has not been cleaned and filtered, so you should not drink it.

Rainwater tanks are also a form of surface water and are a great way to collect and conserve water, but the water from them may not be safe to drink. It can have bugs, dirt and/or minerals in it. Also, anything that is on the roof of your house, or in your gutters, can end up in the rainwater tank. This water can be used for watering the garden and washing cars or clothes. If this water is used for drinking you need to ensure that all gutters are cleaned and free of leaves and animal droppings.

There is more information about surface water in the PDF below.

Are there any other sources of water?

Unsafe waterholes

Waterholes, rock holes and springs also provide us with water and are a combination of ground water and surface water. There is more information about these sources in the PDF below.