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The secret life of water


September 4, 2020

Water is all around us, but how often do we think about it?

Where does your drinking water come from? A city supply, private well, bottles? Sometimes it feels like it magically appears, ready for use. And then it goes down the drain or toilet. Poof, all gone! Or is it?

I am going to reveal the secret life of water.

We all know the water cycle where water evaporates up to the clouds where it collects until it gets dense enough to rain (or snow). It then falls back to Earth to become groundwater again. When water seeps in from the surface and reaches the water table, it begins moving toward points where it can escape, such as wells, rivers or lakes.

Many homes in this area get their drinking water from either a private or public well. This is why it is important to prevent drinking water from becoming polluted by managing potential sources of contamination in the area which supplies water to a well. Much can be done to prevent pollution, such as the wise use of land and chemicals. Public health is protected and the expense of treating polluted water or drilling new wells is avoided through protection efforts.

Where does it go after I flush?

Some of us have a septic system, which consists of a tank and drain field. Wastewater enters the tank. The solids sink and begin to break down. The liquid drains from the tank to the drain field where the remaining impurities naturally decompose and the water returns as ground water.

City residents are probably connected to the city sewer system. The wastewater collected in the sewer system is piped to Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in Duluth for treatment. The treatment is similar to a septic system, but on a vastly larger scale.

So, you might be asking why I am interested in the secret life of water. The quick answer is that water is a limited resource. There is the same amount of water on Earth as there was when the Earth was formed. The water from your faucet could contain molecules from water that dinosaurs drank.

Cool! But wait, there’s more.

Nearly 97 percent of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2 percent is locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1 percent for all of humanity’s needs — all its agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community and personal needs.

Water is part of a deeply interconnected system. What we pour on the ground ends up in our water, and what we spew into the sky ends up in our water.

So, my final point of my interest in the secret life of water is keeping it safe. One way I am doing this is by eliminating as many chemicals as possible in all of my cleaning and using baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and salt. Using these more-natural cleaners saves money, both in the cost of cleaning supplies and then the cost of treating used water.

Natural cleaning products result in a purer environment. Using natural cleaners also contributes to a healthier environment. They help reduce pollution to waterways and air. Water treatment plants have difficulty treating a large volume of conventional cleaners.

The City of Carlton will be giving away two natural cleaning kits in October. Every address in town will be entered into the drawing. Visit our website for cleaning recipes and sewer and septic tips:

Contact writer Jodie Johnson at Carlton City Hall if you would like a copy 218-384-4229 or [email protected]


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