Real Awesome Aquifers

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Aeration Zone

The zone immediately below the land surface where the pores contain both water and air, but are not totally saturated with water. Plant roots can capture the moisture passing through this zone, but it cannot provide water for wells. Also known as the unsaturated zone.

Aquifer

Porous, water-saturated layers of sand, gravel, or bedrock that transmit and store groundwater.

Cone of Depression

The depression in the water table around a well defining the area of influence of the well.

Confining Layer

A layer of geological material that is impermeable and blocks the flow of groundwater

Depletion

The loss of water from surface water reservoirs or groundwater aquifers at a rate greater than that of recharge.

Discharge

An outflow of water from a stream, pipe, groundwater aquifer, or watershed; the opposite of recharge.

Drawdown

effect where the water table around the well is lowered

Flow Rate

The time required for a volume of groundwater to move between points. Typically groundwater moves very slowly—sometimes only inches per year.

Groundwater

Water that fills the cracks and spaces in underground soil and rock layers.

Hydrologic Cycle

The water cycle.

Impermeable Layer

A layer of material (such as clay) in an aquifer through which water does not pass.

Infiltration

Flow of water from the land surface into the subsurface.

Infiltration Rate

The quantity of water that enters the soil surface in a specified time interval. Often expressed in volume of water per unit of soil surface area per unit of time.

Monitoring Well

A non-pumping well, generally of small diameter, that is used to measure the elevation of a water table or water quality.

Overwithdrawal

Withdrawal of groundwater over a period of time that exceeds the recharge rate of the supply aquifer. Also referred to as overdraft or mining the aquifer.

Permeable/Permeability

Capable of transmitting water (porous rock, sediment, or soil); the rate at which water moves through rocks or soil.

Permeable Layer

A layer of porous material (rock, soil, unconsolidated sediment); in an aquifer, the layer through which water freely passes as it moves through the ground.

Plume

An underground pattern of contaminant concentrations created by the lateral movement of groundwater beneath a contaminant source.

Pore Space

Openings between geologic material found underground. Also referred to as void space or interstices.

Porosity

The percentage of the total volume of a rock or sediment that consists of open spaces.

Recharge

Water added to an aquifer; ex. rainfall that seeps into the ground.

Recharge Rate

The quantity of water per unit of time that replenishes or refills an aquifer.

Recharge Zone

An area where permeable soil or rock allows water to seep into the aquifer.

Remediation

Containment, treatment or removal of contaminated groundwater. May also include containment, treatment or removal of contaminated soil above the water table.

Residence Time

Period of time that groundwater remains in an aquifer.

Safe Yield

The annual amount of water that can be taken from a source of supply over a period of years without depleting that source beyond its ability to be replenished naturally in "wet years." Also called sustainable yield.

Salt Water Intrusion

Process by which an aquifer is overdrafted creating a flow imbalance within an area that results in salt water encroaching into fresh water supply.

Saturation Zone

The portion of the earth's crust that's saturated with water. The upper surface of this zone, open to atmospheric pressure, is known as the water table.

Subsidence

A depression of the land surface as a result of groundwater being pumped. Cracks and fissures can appear in the ground. Subsidence is virtually an irreversible process.

Surface Water

Fresh water found above ground in lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.

Water Table

The underground surface below which the ground is wholly saturated with water.

Well

A bored, drilled or driven shaft, or a dug hole whose depth is greater than the largest surface dimension and whose purpose is to reach underground water supplies to inject, extract or monitor water.

Well Closure

The process of sealing a well that is no longer being used to prevent groundwater contamination and harm to people and animals.

Well Siting

Location of a well placed to best protect water quality, access adequate water quantity, and allow for inspection and maintenance of the well.

Wellhead Protection Area

A protected surface and subsurface zone surrounding a well or well field supplying a public water system to keep contaminants from reaching the well water.

Withdrawal

...

Wastewater

Water that contains unwanted material from homes, businesses and industries' a mixture of water and dissolved or suspended substances.

Wastewater Treatment

Any of the mechanical or chemical processes used to modify the quality of wastewater in order to make it more compatible or acceptable to humans and the environment.

Water-bearing Rocks

Several types of rock that can hold water, including: sedimentary deposits (sand and gravel), channels in carbonate rocks (limestone),etc.

Water Quality

The chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water with respect to its suitability for a particular use.

Water Quality Standards

Recommended or enforceable maximum levels of chemicals or materials in water. (est. by municipalities, industries, etc.)

Watershed

the land are from which surface runoff drains into a stream, channel, lake, reservoir, or other body of water; aka drainage basin.

Water Treatment Plant

Facility that treats water to remove contaminants so that it can be safely used.

Well Field

An are in which productive wells are drilled.

Wetlands

Lands where water saturation is the dominant factor in determining the nature of soil development and types of plant and animal communities. (aka sloughs, ponds, marshes.)

Xeriscaping

an environmentally friendly for of landscaping that uses a variety of indigenous and drought tolerant plants, shrubs, and ground cover.

Aquiclude

Geologic material that hinders or prevents groundwater movement.

Aquifer Storage & Retrieval (ASR)

Use of a well or series of wells to inject surface water into an aquifer during wet weather or low demand periods for purposes of withdrawal and use during drought/high demand periods.

Artificial Recharge

Putting water back into groundwater storage from surface water supplies. (Includes ASR)

Baseflow

Streamflow coming from groundwater seepage into a stream or river. Grounwater flows underground untill the water table intersects the land surface and the flowing water becomes surface water. (Springs, lakes, rivers, streams.)

Best Management Practices (BMP's)

Techniques recognized to be the most effective way of reducing groundwater contamination while still allowing the productive use of the resource.

Brackish

A mixture of salt and freshwater.

Capillary Fringe

The area just above the water table, in the aeration zone, where water moves upward from the water table by capillary action.

Collection Site

A stream, lake, reservoir, or other body of water fed by water drained from a watershed.

Confined Aquifer

An aquifer confined between two layers of impermeable geologic material. When tapped by a well, the water is forced upward, sometimes above the surface.

Conservation

The use of water saving m,ethods to reduce the amount of water needed for day to day use.

Consolidated Rock

Tightly bound geologic formation composed of sandstone, limestone, granite, or other rock.

Consumptive Use.

The use of a resource that reduces the supply.

Contaminant

Any substance that when added to water makes it impure and unfit for consumption or another intended use.

Darcy's Law

Groundwater movement equation developed by Henry Darcy in the mid-1800's.

Diffusion

The movement of a substance from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.

Discharge Area

The area or zone where groundwater emerges from an aquifer. The outflow may be into a stream, lake, spring, wetland, etc.

Drought

An extended period of little or no precipitation.

Erosion

The wearing down or washing away of soil and land surface by action of water, wind, or ice.

Evapotranspiration

The loss of water from soil through both evaporation and transpiration from plants.

Filtering

The soil's ability to absorb and retain chemicals or dissolved substances on the surface of it's particles.

Fresh Water

Water with less than .5 parts per thousand dissolved salts.

Gaining Stream

A stream in which groundwater contributes significantly to the streamflow.

Gray Water

Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from household sinks, tubs, and washers.

Groundwater Basin

The underground are from which groundwater drains.

Groundwater Divide

The boundary between two adjacent groundwater basins, represented by a highpoint in the water table.

Groundwater UDI

Groundwater close enough to nearby surface water to recieve direct surface water recharge.

Hydrogeology

The study of the interrelationships of geologic materials and processes with water, esp. groundwater.

Hydrology

The study of the occurence, distribution, and chemistry of all the waters of the earth.

Induced Recharge

The recharge to an aquifer that occurs when a pumping well creates a cone of depression that lowers an adjacent water table below the level of a stream or lake, causing the stream or lake to lose water to the adjacent groundwater aquifer.

Injection Well

A well constructed for the purpose of injecting treated water, often wastewater, directly into the ground. Water is generally forced (pumped) into the well for dispersal or storage into a designated aquifer. Usually not in aquifers used for drinking water.

Integrated Management

Any combination of physical, technical, administrative, and legal practices relating to surface water and groundwater in a manner designed to increase combined benefits or achieve a more equitable apportionment of benefits from both sources. Also referred to as conjunctive use.

Interflow

Water that travels laterally or horizontally through the aeration zone during or immediately after a precipitation event and discharges into a stream or other body of water.

Karst

A geologic formation of irregular limestone deposits with sinks, underground streams, and caverns.

Leachate

Liquids that have percolated through a soil and that carry substances in solution or suspension.

Leaching

The process by which soluble materials in the soil, such as salts, nutrients, pesticide chemicals, or contaminants, are washed into a lower layer of soil or are dissolved and carried away by water.

Losing Stream

A stream that is losing water to (or recharging) the groundwater system.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)

Designation given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to drinking water standards promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A MCL is the greatest amount of a contaminant allowed in drinking water without causing a risk to human health.

Mining

See overwithdrawal.

Municipal Water System

A network of pipes, pumps and storage/treatment facilities designed to deliver portable water around a city.

Non-Point Source Pollution(NPS)

Pollution discharged over a wide land area, not from one specific location.

Parallel Flow Paths

: Layers of groundwater flow that do not mix with other flow layers because groundwater movement is too slow to create sufficient turbulence to cause mixing to occur.

Perched Aquifer

Localized zone of saturation above the main water table created by an underlying layer of impermeable material.

Percolation

(1) The movement of water through the openings in rock or soil. (2) The entrance of a portion of the streamflow into the channel materials to contribute to groundwater replenishment.

Point Source Solution (PSP)

Pollutants discharged from any identifiable point, including pipes, ditches, channels, sewers, tunnels, and containers of various types.

Pollution

. The alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological properties of water by the introduction of any substance that renders the water harmful to use.

Potable

Water of a quality suitable for drinking.

Potentiometric Surface

The potential level to which water will rise above the water level in an aquifer in a well that penetrates a confined aquifer; if the potential level is higher than the land surface, the well will overflow.

Reclaimed Wastewater

Treated wastewater that can be used for beneficial purposes, such as irrigating certain plants.

Recycled Water

Water that is used more than one time before it passes back into the natural hydrologic system.

Return Flow

That part of a diverted flow that is not consumptively used and returned to its original source or another body of water.

Ridge Lines

Points of higher ground that separate two adjacent streams or watersheds; also known as divides.

Runoff

Precipitation that flows over land to surface streams, rivers, and lakes

Salinization

The condition in which the salt content of soil accumulates over time to above normal levels

Salt Marsh

A low coastal grassland frequently inundated by the tide.

Saturated Thickness

Total water-bearing thickness of an aquifer.

Seepage

The loss of water by infiltration into the soil from a canal, ditch, lateral, watercourse, reservoir, storage facility, or other body of water, or from a field.

Septic System

Used to treat household sewage and wastewater by allowing the solids to decompose and settle in a tank, then letting the liquid be absorbed by the soil in a drainage field.

Soil

The top layer of the Earth's surface, containing unconsolidated rock and mineral particles mixed with organic material.

Soil Moisture

Water contained in the aeration or unsaturated zone.

Sole Source Aquifer

: An aquifer that supplies 50% or more of the drinking water of an area.

Source Water Assesment

A process in which the land area that impacts a public drinking water source is delineated, possible sources of contaminants that could impact that drinking water source are identified, and a determination of the likelihood that the contaminants will reach the drinking water source is made.

Source Water Protection

Voluntary action taken to prevent the pollution of drinking water sources, including groundwater, lakes, rivers, and streams.

Spring

The emergence of groundwater at the land surface, usually at a clearly defined point; it may flow strongly or just ooze or seep out.

Static Water Level

The level or elevation to which water would rise in a tube connected to an artesian aquifer or basin in a conduit under pressure.

Storm Drain

Constructed opening in a road system through which runoff from the road surface flows into an underground system.

Substrate

A layer of material beneath the surface soil.

Temporary Wetland

A type of wetland in which water is present for only part of the year, usually during wet or rainy seasons; also known as vernal pools.

Thermal Spring

Heated groundwater that naturally flows to the land surface

Transmissivity

A measure of the capability of the entire thickness of an aquifer to transmit water.

Turbidity

A cloudy condition in water due to suspended silt or organic matter.

Unconfined Aquifer

An aquifer in which the water table is at or near atmosphere pressure and is the upper boundary of the aquifer. Because the aquifer is not under pressure the water level in a well is the same as the water table outside the well.

Unconsolidated Rock

Loosely bound geologic formation composed of sands and gravel.

Aeration zone

The zone immediately below the land surface where the pores contain both water and air, but are not totally saturated with water. Plant roots can capture the moisture passing through this zone, but it cannot provide water for wells. Also known as the unsaturated zone or vadose zone.

Aquiclude

Impermeable beds of geologic material that hinder or prevent groundwater movement.

Aquifer

An underground geological formation able to store and yield water.

Aquifer storage and retrieval (ASR)

Use of a well or series of wells to inject surface water into an aquifer during wet weather or low demand periods for purposes of withdrawal and use during drought and/or high demand periods.

Artesian well

A well tapping a confined aquifer. Water in the well rises above the top of the aquifer under artesian pressure, but does not necessarily reach the land surface; a flowing one of these is a well in which the water level is above the land surface.

Artificial recharge

Putting water back into groundwater storage from surface water supplies such as irrigation, or induced infiltration from streams or wells. Includes aquifer storage and retrieval (ASR).

Baseflow

Streamflow coming from groundwater seepage into a stream or river. Groundwater flows underground until the water table intersects the land surface and the flowing water becomes surface water in the form of springs, streams/rivers, lakes and wetlands. It is the continual contribution of groundwater to rivers and is an important source of flow between rainstorms.

Best management practices (BMP's)

Structural, nonstructural, and managerial techniques recognized to be the most effective and practical means to reduce surface water and groundwater contamination while still allowing the productive use of resources.

Brackish

Mixed fresh and salt water.

Capillary water

Just above the water table, in the aeration zone, this moves upward from the water table by capillary action. This water can move slowly and in any direction.

Collection site

A stream, lake, reservoir, or other body of water fed by water drained from a watershed.

Condensation

The process in the hydrologic cycle by which a vapor becomes a liquid; the opposite of evaporation.

Cone of depression

The zone around a well in an unconfined aquifer that is normally saturated, but becomes unsaturated as a well is pumped, leaving an area where the water table dips down to form a cone shape. The shape of the cone is influenced by porosity and the water yield or pumping rate of the well. The land surface overlying the cone of depression is referred to as the area of influence.

Confined aquifer

A body of groundwater surrounded by confining layers

Confining layer

Geologic material with little or no permeability or hydraulic conductivity. Water does not pass through this layer or the rate of movement is extremely slow.

Conservation

The use of water-saving methods to reduce the amount of water needed for homes, lawns, farming, and industry, and thus increasing water supplies for optimum long-term economic and social benefits.

Consolidated rock

Tightly bound geologic formation composed of sandstone, limestone, granite, or other rock.

Consumptive use

The use of a resource that reduces the supply (removing water from a source like a river, lake or aquifer without returning an equal amount). Examples include the intake of water by plants, humans, and other animals and the incorporation of water into the products of industrial or food processing.

Contaminant

Any substance that when added to water (or another substance) makes it impure and unfit for consumption or an intended use.

Darcy's Law

A groundwater movement equation formulated by Henry Darcy during the mid-1800's based on experiments on the flow of water through beds of sand. It forms the scientific basis of fluid permeability used in earth science.

Depletion

The loss of water from surface water reservoirs or groundwater aquifers at a rate greater than that of recharge.

Diffusion

The movement of a substance from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.

Discharge

An outflow of water from a stream, pipe, groundwater aquifer, or watershed; the opposite of recharge.

Discharge area

The area or zone where groundwater emerges from the aquifer. The outflow maybe into a stream, lake, spring, wetland, etc.

Drawdown

A lowering of the groundwater level caused by pumping.

Drought

An extended period with little or no precipitation; often affects crop production and availability of water supplies.

Erosion

The wearing down or washing away of the soil and land surface by the action of water, wind, or ice.

Evaporation

The conversion of a liquid (water) into a vapor (a gaseous state) usually through the application of heat energy during the hydrologic cycle; the opposite of condensation.

Evapotranspiration

The loss water from the soil through both evaporation and transpiration from plants.

Filtering

The soil's ability to attenuate substances by retaining chemicals or dissolved substances on the soil particle surface, transforming chemicals through microbial biological processing, retarding movement, and capturing solid particles.

Flow rate

The time required for a volume of groundwater to move between points. Typically groundwater moves very slowly—sometimes as little as inches per year.

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