by Duncan Peters August 04, 2022 4 min read

How where you live affects the contaminants in your water

Your geography can have a big impact on your water quality. So what is the water quality likely to be near you? Ground water is filtered by bodies of rocks underneath you known as aquifers, so the consistency of those aquifers can make a big difference to the water quality that you have available. 

How water moves through aquifers

Many different types of sediments and rocks can form aquifers, including gravel, sandstone, conglomerates, and fractured limestone. A common misconception about aquifers is that they are underground rivers or lakes. While groundwater can seep into or out of aquifers due to their porous nature, it cannot move fast enough to flow like a river. The rate at which groundwater moves through an aquifer varies depending on the rock’s permeability.


Groundwater can become depleted if we use it at a faster rate than it can replenish itself. Aquifers naturally filter groundwater by forcing it to pass through small pores and between sediments, which helps to remove substances from the water. This natural filtration process, however, may not be enough to remove all of the contaminants.


Scotland is known for having high quality drinking water with the best quality on average in the UK. However, these figures are for the public drinking sources, much of this coming from reservoirs. Only 3% of people in Scotland rely on private water sources which may still have the great, fresh taste but could have harmful contaminants in them. However, 70% of private water sources in Scotland are supplied through groundwater. The most common problem in these sources is microbial pollution, with nearly 25% of these sources being polluted with E. coli. Other contaminants such as ammonium and pesticides are often found. 

It is strongly encouraged that you test your water supply at least once a year and use a purifying system in the case of any doubt. 


The UK as a whole uses groundwater to supply about 35% of its population with clean water, especially in the South-East of England. Over the last few decades the quality of the UK's aquifiers has decreased with nearly 50% of groundwater needing treatment nowadays compared to very little back in the 1940s. This can be attributed to the higher levels of fertilisers and pesticides used in the agriculture industry. This is not to say that the public water is unsafe, it just needs treatment. However, those who are off grid and rely on groundwater should be careful with their water supply. In this case it is strongly encouraged that you test your water supply at least once a year and use a purifying system in the case of any doubt. 

The UK has also seen decreases in the level of its groundwater, with many aquifers below average but not yet at a worryingly low level. 


The EU relies heavily on groundwater to supply its population with water. Groundwater supplies 65% of its population and 25% of its irrigation systems. This places a huge strain on the groundwater supply both in terms of quality and quantity. Nearly 10% of the groundwater supplies are seriously depleted and nearly 25% are polluted, many through pesticides and fertilisers, meaning that nearly 30% of groundwater supplies lack sufficient capacity to service the ecosystem or society. This obviously poses problems for the EU and its residents as the population and consumerism are increasing, meaning that more water will be needed in the future. It is considered that the depletion of groundwater is at such a serious level, it could affect people's lives and some sectors. This need for water will have to be met through different means to let aquifers resupply and decontaminate. 


The US relies on groundwater for 26% of its water, pumping a massive 312 billion litres of water to the surface each day. This is obviously a huge volume of water and the groundwater levels are suffering because of it. Approximately 45% of wells examined showed a statistically significant reduction in water levels since 1980 with 40% at record-lows in the last decade. In Phoenix, Arizona, it is practically banned to construct a house relying on ground water. Kansas supplies 25% of the USA's wheat and had its smallest harvest in nearly 90 years in 2023. In California, Texas and Utah, roads are cracking, foundations are collapsing and sinkholes are appearing because of lowering groundwater levels. The depletion of groundwater levels is going to be a huge concern for the US if they don't find a new means of procuring water or invest in water purification infrastructure for their growing population. 

The US is also struggling with the quality of their purifiers. 1 in 5 samples from water purifiers produced results showing levels of contaminants higher than the limit where health concerns begin to creep in. For people who have a private water supply, which is 15% of the US, the increase in contamination over the years may become a larger problem as water purification is needed in more wells before it can be consumed. 

Learn More

Learn more about the WaterOne, a new purification technology designed to deal with any groundwater source, regardless of where you live.