Rian Bartsch, Kelsey Cowan, Austin Colyer, Brookland Swingley Intro to Technical Writing
April 21, 2013
Sustaining natural resources is vital to the survival of every species on Earth. Water sustainability, in terms of biology, is the maintenance and conservation of water resources that is necessary for the survival of all living things. Sustaining water is essential to many facets of life - biologically, environmentally, socially and economically. Residents of Missoula, Montana are fortunate enough to live in an area with a relatively ample supply of water resources. The main source of water for the Missoula area is the Missoula aquifer. An aquifer is an underground bed or layer of permeable rock, sediment or soil that yields water. The aquifer under Missoula is where residents and commercial businesses obtain water from. The image below (Figure 1) shows the Missoula aquifer and how it works:
Figure [ 1 ] Missoula Aquifer http://www.mtnwater.com/aahquifer.htm Sustaining the Missoula aquifer is a goal of various environmental programs and companies in Missoula, such as Mountain Water Company and the Clark Fork Coalition. In order to sustain the Missoula aquifer various factors affecting water quality is important. Specific details on water quality, threats, and conservation are major points to consider when examining the overall sustainability of the Missoula aquifer.
The risks for drinking water contamination exist all over the world. In Missoula however, water quality is not at as high of a risk. Mountain Water Company states Missoula’s water quality has had “no contaminants detected that exceed any federal or state drinking water standards.” Despite this positive report, risks still exist and are important to be aware of. Various factors that affect overall water quality include: viruses, bacteria, inorganic contaminants, oil and gas production, radioactive contaminants and multiple others. Figure [ 2 ] Water testing www.waterquality.montana.edu
Figure [ 2 ] Water testing www.waterquality.montana.edu
To ensure the quality of Missoula’s drinking water stays up to par, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MTDEQ) take certain precautions to keep the water safe to drink. The ability to keep all contaminants out of drinking water is impossible and this is why the USEPA and MTDEQ have established regulations that limit the amount of contaminants and ensure possible contaminants stay at a safe level for healthy drinking water. According to Mountain Water Company, some contaminants found in Missoula’s drinking water include: * Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria that may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife. * Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, may be naturally occurring or a result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic waste water discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming. Pesticides and herbicides are other contaminants, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff, and residential uses. * Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals that are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production but may also come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff, and septic systems. * Radioactive contaminants, that may be naturally occurring or be the result of oil and gas productions and mining activities. Mountain Water Company tests for these possible contamination threats and reports the levels of these every year. The levels of contaminants are provided in water quality reports for the public to review.
One water quality threat is the effect of the...