A groundwater form is a major source of water supply, not many appreciate the fact while most dismisses its importance. Groundwater provides mankind with a clean source of water from underneath the ground. However today even this source of water is being threatened by pollution due to human activities and development above the ground, in many part of the world groundwater forms a major alternative source of clean water for domestic and industrial usage.
Groundwater constitutes an important source of water supply for various purposes, such as domestic supply, industries and agriculture needs. In the hydrological cycle, groundwater occurs when surface water from rainfall seeps to a greater depth filling the spaces between particles of soil or sediment or the fractures within the rock. Groundwater flows very slowly in the subsurface toward points of discharge including wells, springs, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Almost all alluvial plains have a high potential of groundwater occurrence. Whilst in the hard rock areas, groundwater potential is in the high density lineament zones.
One of the basic misconceptions in Malaysia regarding groundwater resource development and management is that groundwater is a limited resource, unreliable, polluted, difficult to extract, expensive to develop, difficult to maintain and gives negative impact to the environment (Hatta, 2006). An analysis of current practices might lead to the conclusion that there is currently no effective system of groundwater management. Despite the highly technical work that is carried out and presented in hydrogeological literature, the status of knowledge of groundwater aquifer systems is often limited. In general, water resource management practices continue to ignore the integrity of groundwater systems even in arid regions. The term ‘Integrated Water Resources Management’ (IWRM) is generally predicated on hydraulic principles on groundwater development and policy responses to groundwater issues such as depletion and degradation is warranted (FAO, 2006)
The main factors to be considered in implementing groundwater schemes included aquifer recharge rate, aquifer characteristics, geological conditions and surrounding land use. Groundwater flow has been studied using sand models, analog models and various mathematical models. Aquifers are often vulnerable to pollution from surface contaminants due to urbanization or agriculture practices. Some of the major issues relating to groundwater abstraction include over-abstraction resulting in depletion of resources, ground settlement or subsidence, changes to groundwater flow pattern and surface stream hydrology and induced inflow of poor quality water from surrounding areas. In development urban areas, the rate of aquifer recharge from natural rainfall will be reduced due to increased rate of surface run-off.
In most parts of Malaysia, the use of groundwater for domestic purpose is mainly confined to rural areas where there is no piped water supply. Currently only in Perlis and Kelantan, groundwater is being significantly utilized for public water supply (EPU, 2006). Table 1.1 shows that Perlis and Kelantan are the two states where groundwater forms an importance source of water.
|STATE |% GROUNDWATER USED | |Kelantan |63 | |Perlis |34 | |Terengganu |7 | |Pahang |6 | |Kedah |1 | |TOTAL |100 |
Table 1.1: Percentage of Groundwater Used over Total Water Used in Malaysia
In the mineral water industry, groundwater is treated before...