Agricultural Runoff and Water Contamination

Chris Tracey ·

For many homes and farms, water filters can be a solution to drinking water that may be contaminated by agricultural runoff. This article takes a look at this type of contamination and how water filters can be used to help solve this potential problem.

The main issue associated with farm runoff, as it pertains to drinking water, comes from the chemicals that are used on farms: pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals can find their way into underground aquifers when they seep through the dirt. They can also get into water sources by traveling along the upper soil, such as after a heavy rain, and entering rivers and streams.

Those who live in rural areas face this potential type of water contamination more so than those who live in urban areas. The reason for this simple: rural homes and farms often get their water from private wells.

Private wells are not required to be monitored for contamination levels as public water supplies are required. This means that some homes and farms may be at risk. It is also important to remember that ag runoff contamination can happen at any time and does not always present itself in the same place. This makes controlling this type of water contamination very difficult.

The best way to think of this is to imagine a factory located on a river bank that pours its waste into the river. You can see this factory; you know where it is. Now imagine living in a rural area surrounded by thousands of acres of farm land. Contamination into the ground water can happen anywhere, and you most likely will not know where it is occurring or even "if" it is occurring.

Because there are so many unknowns when it comes to private well water contamination, homeowners should install water filters to help protect their families from possible exposure to these materials.

One would think that having the water tested would be a good first step. While testing well water is always a good idea, it must be remembered that agricultural runoff can occur at any time, especially after heavy rain or snow melts. In other words, you will never really know when it occurs.

One clue, however, is the activity of your surrounding area. If you know for a fact that many farmers or ranchers are using pesticides and fertilizers on their crops or on their land, you can be assured that at least some runoff will take place. In most cases, you can also be assured that at least some of this material is likely to seep into the underground water source from which you may be getting your drinking water.

There are several ways you can protect yourself from these types of contaminants. Chlorination of the water will kill most bacteria and other organisms. Aeration can help to dispel many toxins into the atmosphere, and media filters installed in the home can help to catch many other types of contaminants.

Modern water filters, even whole house water filters, are much more affordable today than ever before. If you are not sure which type of water filter to use for your home, consult with a professional who can answer your questions and help you make the best decision.

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