So now we know that there can be contamination
of the groundwater supply. What do we do about it?
Groundwater can sometimes be difficult to clean up due to its
location. Many times the water is pumped up a well, cleaned, and
then sent back down the well into the aquifer. Sometimes an additive
is placed in the groundwater that either makes the contaminants
less harmful or destroys them. When there is contamination, not
only does the water need to be cleaned, but often the
soil as well. If the soil wasn't cleaned, then the contaminants
could just seep back into the water. Thus, cleaning is a very,
very expensive and time consuming process. Sometimes it might
be impossible or too expensive to clean up the contamination
Specific Examples of Cleaning Methods: (There are
Soil Vapor Extraction system. Looks as big and expensive
as it really is.
Bioremediation involves using bacteria to clean up the contamination
by "eating" it. Usually nutrients are pumped down into
the contaminated area. The nutrients help bacteria, which
are already in the groundwater, to grow and destroy the contamination.
Soil Vapor Extraction:
In SVE, air is pulled through the ground in order
to pull certain contaminants out of the groundwater. This method
also increases air movement underground so that the helpful bacteria
in the ground can "breath" better and destroy more contaminants.
The air that is pulled out of the ground then needs to be treated
"Pump and Treat" Systems:
Sometimes groundwater is cleaned by pumping it to the surface
and cleaning it above ground. The clean water is then pumped back
into the ground.
This is sometimes is a problem, as there might not be anywhere to put it while
it is being cleaned up.
Another issue is that while the water
is now clean, the contaminant still needs to be disposed of safely
somewhere. This can take even more time and effort.