Unfortunately, there’s no one definitive reason behind how groundwater becomes polluted. There are a number of ways in which groundwater can be contaminated, some of which can be avoided by human activity. However, both humans and nature play a role in aiding in the pollution of groundwater, and here’s how.

Part of Nature

Many harmful substances can happen naturally through the soil and rock, making it incredibly easy for them to penetrate the groundwater and contaminate it. Just because it occurred through nature, doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Elements that include arsenic, chlorides, iron, fluorides, sulphates and decaying organic material can all be found in natural environments, and are all toxic to the human body.

Septic Tanks

Many modern-day homes use a septic system to dispose of their toilet waste. It’s guaranteed that a small amount of that waste can and will make its way into the ground. However, when you consider the number of houses that operate using septic tanks, that makes this a large contributor to the contamination of groundwater. Not only does groundwater get contaminated due to human waste (which carries hazardous chemicals),  it also invites viruses and bacteria into the mix as well.

Hazardous Waste

Finding residue of hazardous waste in groundwater is easy to do when you consider how poorly they’re disposed of. Items like batteries, oils, medicines, gardening or cleaning chemicals and pool chemicals are more often than not flushed down the toilet, poured down the drain or tossed out with the regular trash. Throwing out hazardous waste in this manner means that harmful chemicals have an easy path into your groundwater supply.

Landfill Contamination

Harsh chemicals that are tossed in the trash and deposited into landfills allow for easy seepage into the ground thanks to rainwater run-off. While modern landfills are legally required to provide some sort of protection in order to prevent contamination, older deposits lack this groundwater safety features.

Herbicides, Fertilizers, and Pesticides

Commonly used for agricultural purposes in order to simultaneously boost crop growth and protect them from pests, these chemicals are highly toxic and can easily enter groundwater sources. Used on golf courses, in businesses and gardens, herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides pose a danger even when utilized properly.


It’s common for hazardous chemicals to be used during mining operations or other activities. When digging for gold, cyanide is used to separate the precious metal from its ore. When mining for copper, sulfuric acid is used in the same way. One groundwater source that’s been greatly affected by mining operations and chemical leakage is the Santa Cruz aquifer.

With over 100 years of combined waste water management experience, Taber Solids Control is dedicated to providing industrial and municipal clients with effective water treatment solutions. Located in Edmonton, Alberta, we specialize in services like renting, servicing, selling and manufacturing dredges, dewatering centrifuges, and related equipment for the oil and gas industry. If you’re interested in learning more about waste water management and water treatments, call us or visit our website for more information.