Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW)

Definition - What does Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW) mean?

Underground Sources of Drinking Water are aquifers that are formed in an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rocks by rainwater. The water seeps through porous soil, moves downward due to the force of gravity, and reaches a point where the rock bed and soul are saturated with water. It is stored under these permeable rocks and forms a source of underground water.

Petropedia explains Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW)

Underground water sources contain aquifers below the earth's surface which are capable of yielding a significant amount of water. There are two types of aquifers:

  • Unconfined aquifers- These are aquifers allow water to seep in from the ground surface directly above the aquifer.
  • Confined aquifers- These aquifers have an impermeable dirt/rock layer that prevents water from seeping into the aquifer from the ground surface located directly above.
An aquifer can be contaminated by many things. Deliberate disposal of waste at point sources such as landfills, septic tanks, injection wells and storm drain wells can have an impact on the quality of the groundwater in an aquifer. Contaminants can reach the water table by any natural or man-made route along which water can flow from the surface to the aquifer.
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