As a resident of Arkansas, you probably know about our abundant mountains, rivers, caves, and hot springs. You may not be aware, however, of a threat lurking beneath the surface of the ground.
The groundwater responsible for the majority of our drinking water is susceptible to pollutants and contamination. In almost all scenarios, groundwater contamination can be prevented. The effects can be difficult to manage and reverse.
While government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are responsible for establishing standards and regulations for our drinking water, these laws are not always abided by—whether by accident or otherwise.
In the event you discover you are a victim of groundwater contamination, you may be eligible for compensation for any sustained damages. The sections below will provide you with basic information about groundwater pollution, and how legal representation can help you with your case. To seek legal recourse, you’ll need the assistance of a Little Rock groundwater contamination lawyer from McMath Woods P.A.
What Is Groundwater?
To understand groundwater contamination, its sources, and its effects, you must first understand how groundwater forms and why it’s important.
Water found beneath the surface of the land is considered groundwater. When rainwater falls, it’s spread to a variety of places. Some of the water will fall into lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water. Other amounts will be used by plants or evaporate entirely. The remaining rainwater seeps into the ground and becomes groundwater.
Most of the drinking water in the United States comes from groundwater—approximately 51%. The number is even higher in rural areas where people draw their water from wells. Along with our drinking water coming from the ground, most of our agriculture is grown and sustained using groundwater.
Unlike surface water in rivers, lakes, and ponds, groundwater requires fewer harsh chemical treatments to be safe for human consumption. It’s also present in dry parts of the country where surface water is not. Groundwater supports the ecosystem by refilling and recharging surface water locations, as well.
Now that you understand what groundwater is and how it’s beneficial to our planet, let’s take a look at the sources that contribute to groundwater pollution.
What Are the Sources of Groundwater Contamination?
According to the EPA, groundwater pollution is almost always the result of human activity—and therefore preventable.
The following list includes some of the most common sources that contaminate groundwater.
- Animal burial areas
- Fertilizer storage
- Irrigation sites
- Animal feedlots
- Manure spreading areas
- Construction areas
- Research laboratories
- Scrap and junkyards
- Asphalt plants
- Chemical manufacturing and storage
- Mining and mine drainage
- Operating and abandoned mills
- Fuel oil
- Septic systems
- Sewer lines
- Furniture stripping and refurnishing
- Swimming pools
- Hazardous waste landfills
- Municipal incinerators
- Open burning sites
- Road maintenance depots
- Stormwater drains and basins
What Are the Effects of Groundwater Contamination?
The health effects of groundwater pollution are often serious and can be life-threatening.
If a septic system has been installed incorrectly, groundwater can become infected with hepatitis. If a person drinks the water and contracts hepatitis, they may sustain permanent liver damage.
Similar to hepatitis, dysentery can be caused by drinking water that contains human or animal waste. Dysentery causes infections in the digestive system and intestines, leading to severe dehydration and sometimes death.
In the event a well is incorrectly installed, pesticides and solvents can leak into private groundwater supplies. When humans or animals drink the water, they can quickly become poisoned and need to seek medical treatment.
Groundwater contamination also has an impact on the environment. The environment can actually be altered when groundwater is polluted. When toxic water enters an ecosystem, the fish, birds, animals, and plants that live in the area can become sick and quickly die off.
Essentially, groundwater pollution has the potential to increase soil nutrients to the point they are unable to sustain the given ecosystem. This can lead to the death of fish when they are no longer able to process the water. Plants may also be affected and not have the ability to absorb water the way they’re supposed to.
There are economic consequences related to groundwater contamination. When polluted groundwater contaminates an area, there’s a chance people may not want to live there. This depreciates the value of the land. Water contamination also leads to unstable industry production, because certain factories rely on water they don’t have to test. If the water is unsafe, they’ll have to spend additional funds to test it.
How Can a Little Rock Groundwater Contamination Lawyer Help Me With My Claim?
If your property has been contaminated by groundwater pollution, our Arkansas groundwater pollution attorneys are prepared to help you hold the negligent party accountable.
Groundwater contamination falls under environmental litigation. We have decades of experience representing victims of these types of cases, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the complex web of environmental regulations and the evolving laws surrounding it.
Contact our law firm today to begin your case with a consultation and evaluation.