How does your water get to you?

You turn on the tap in the morning to brush your teeth and water flows out. Simple, right? Well, it actually takes a team of experts to get that water there to your tap and to make it safe enough that you can use it to fill your glass.

Do you know where your water comes from? Two thirds of the UK’s water comes from reservoirs, lakes and rivers and the rest from groundwater, stored in aquifers. It is sent over substantial distances, moving naturally or being pumped, meaning that the water from your tap may have fallen from the sky over 100 miles away.

It isn’t just getting water to our homes but also making sure this water is clean. Along its journey chemicals are added to treat it, making sure that it isn’t contaminated with bacteria which will make you sick.

The supplies we have of water also need to be very carefully controlled by scientists and meteorologists, who carefully study weather and rainfall, to predict whether we need a hosepipe ban or if we need to get the sandbags out.

While a hosepipe ban sounds boring, especially in summer, it can actually be quite important. Drought can lead to a fall in groundwater which harms the environment. It can cause rivers and ponds to dry up, leading to algal blooms and excessive weed growth meaning there is less oxygen in the water which is crucial for the survival of fish and other pond life. The Environment Agency recently reported that lack of water at the start of the year also caused problems for farmers who needed to irrigate their crops, so we had enough food.

And it may seem like fun to put your wellies on and go wading through big puddles but too much water can also cause problems for farmers as it leads to water logged fields. Flooding can also contaminate clean water supplies. This is why a team of water experts are needed to predict and plan for such water surges and shortages.

So if you think you want to protect wildlife or help create healthy water sources for everyone you could think about these career possibilities:

  • A water treatment worker – adds chemicals and microbes to water and monitors it to make sure it’s safe for people to drink
  • A civil engineer/water engineer – managing water supply and drainage networks and installing flood barriers
  • A geoscientist –searching for new water supplies and assessing safety and impact of work done by Civil Engineers
  • A geotechnician – obtaining and analyzing samples and interpreting data to support the work of geoscientists
  • A chemist – developing ways to keep water supplies clean
  • A meteorologist – measuring and predicting the weather so people are prepared for floods or droughts
  • A water quality scientist – maintaining the quality of water by testing and comparing samples
  • An environmental consultant – identifying any sources of contamination which affect water supplies
  • A waste management officer – managing waste so that it does not contaminate water supplies