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KIDS' Water Page

Did you know that there is the same amount of water on the earth now as when it was formed 4,600,000,000 years ago?

dino drinkDid you know that the water you drink today could be the same water that a dinosaur drank?

How can this be true?

Water is constantly being recycled and reused through a process called the water, or hydrologic, cycle.  You can see how this works by looking at the picture below.

Hydrologic Cycle

Water that falls to the earth as rain, snow, sleet, or hail soaks (infiltrates) into the ground where it can be used by plants or goes to the groundwater.  Water that does not infiltrate into the ground flows as runoff into rivers or lakes.  All of this water is eventually returned to the clouds through either evaporation or transpiration, where it will again become rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

hydrologic Cycle

And so the cycle goes on forever and ever.

You can see why it is important to be careful with our water.  By not wasting water, we are conserving and saving our water.  This helps to make sure we will always have enough good, clean water.  By being careful not to dump oil, pesticides, or other poisons onto the ground where it could soak in, or run off and pollute, we are protecting all of our water.  See the Hydrologic Cycle in action. 

Water from wells.

All of Renton's water is pumped from wells.  The wells pull water from an aquifer - an aquifer is an underground  layer of material (broken rock, sand, alluvium, etc.) that has lots of space, or pores, that are filled with water that can be pumped out.  When you are walking around in Liberty Park by the Library, our drinking water is under your feet!  If you dug a hole in the Park, that went down about 25 feet, you would see our drinking water - or you could just turn on the tap! 

Three of the wells that pump water from this aquifer are located in the gray building, with a red roof, located right next to the skateboard park in Liberty Park.  When you walk by you can usually hear the large pump motors humming away inside, pumping as much as 6,000 gallons of water a minute!  The water that is pumped up is generally very clean - clean enough to drink right out of the ground.  Chlorine is added just to be sure it is absolutely clean, and to make sure it stays clean as it goes through many miles of pipe to get to your faucet.   The City also has two wells across Houser Way in Cedar River Park; two wells at Maplewood Golf course (these are deep wells and just for backup); and a spring at the south end of the City.  All of these wells pump up nearly 3 billion gallons of water a year. 

Because Renton's drinking water aquifer is so close to the surface, we need to be careful.  Anything that is in contact with the ground can infiltrate into the soil and percolate down to the aquifer.  Pesticides and fertilizers used on lawns, when used to excess, can find their way into groundwater.  Many of the same pollutants that contaminate surface water (rivers, lakes and ponds) also can contaminate groundwater.  The pollution associated with cars, trucks, and buses that runs off the streets when it rains, pollutes streams, but much of it will also soak into the ground on its way to the stream.  Road salt and used motor oil also may seep into groundwater. 

                                                                     gw-pollution     

 

Good or Bad?

How do you know if something is hazardous?  You can generally assume it is hazardous if it has words such as "Caution", "Danger", or "Warning"  on the label.  Hazardous product labels may also say things like "harmful or fatal if swallowed", "do not use near heat or flame", or "use in well-ventilated area".  Look for these warnings or any of the these symbols.   

 

                                                                     Haz-Mat warnings MrYuck

 

 

You can help.

You can start protecting groundwater right at home!  Check around your home for products (paints, cleaners, etc.) that would contaminate the groundwater if they were poured down the drain or dumped on the ground outside.  If you live in a house with a lawn, find out about all the chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) that are used on the lawn.  Talk to your family about how hazardous household or lawn products can contaminate the groundwater.  Instead of pouring chemicals down the drain, they can be used up.  Purchase "environmentally safe" products over hazardous ones.  Chemical use on lawns can be reduced to prevent large amounts of contaminants getting into the groundwater.  Tell your parents to wash your car at a carwash.  Washing in the street, the soapy water goes into storm drains, which go directly to the nearest stream or pond, or in some cases into the ground.  If you wash your car on the lawn and you live in the part of the City that is over the aquifer, the soap and the washed off road dirt can seep into the aquifer.  Automated carwashes save water by recycling.  And when they dispose of the dirty water, they put it into the sanitary sewer where it will be cleaned rather than running off to pollute streams and groundwater. 

 

If you want to learn more about water or have some good clean-water fun, check out the links below.

Water Cycle bonanza http://www.air-n-water.com/water-cycle.htm.