Groundwater

groundwater pouring out of a pump

Groundwater is water found in cracks and pores in sand, gravel and rocks below the surface of the earth. Does your drinking water come from a well? If so, that's groundwater! More than 50% of North Carolina's population gets their drinking water from groundwater, including both private and municipal wells. When it rains, some of the water soaks into the ground, rather than flowing into the nearest drain or stream. The water that is not taken up by plants' roots moves deeper into the earth and becomes groundwater, which in turn feeds lakes and streams through springs. Groundwater is stored in aquifers, or layers of porous materials like sand. Both the quantity and quality of groundwater are human concerns. Water that flows through contaminated soils can also become contaminated. What we dump on the ground can eventually end up in our drinking glasses. In the coastal plain region, groundwater often comes from aquifers that are closed off by layers of clay that won't allow water through. Increased use of groundwater raises concerns that we may be depleting water sources much faster than they can replenish themselves. Excess pumping in the proximity of salt water also raises the risk of bringing salt water into an aquifer, making it unfit for human consumption. This is called salt water intrusion. Where does your drinking water come from? Find out about groundwater conditions in your part of the state.

Resources for Exploring your Groundwater

N.C. Public Water Supply Section This section of North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) serves to protect and regulate public drinking water in North Carolina. You can view annual reports, plans, rules and regulations and emergency management plans.

North Carolina Groundwater Association Check out the "Fast Facts" section for great facts and statistics about North Carolina's groundwater use.

DENR Division of Water Resources This is a great site for all things water in North Carolina. They have information on drought management, groundwater data and levels, water resources, educational curriculum on water, rules and regulations, permitting, etc. They have great maps to browse through as well.