Clean water is essential to life. Scenes from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina illustrated this point in the extreme. New Orleans isn’t alone in the need for pure water. Across the planet, over a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Every year polluted water contributes to the death of approximately 15 million children under five years of age. Some experts estimate that in the next two decades the average amount of drinkable water per capita on the planet will shrink by one-third. Finding new sources of potable water is vital. Solutions are being sought by various entities across the globe.
One of the newer methods involved in water management is isotope hydrology. This technique allows scientists to determine age, origin, size, and flow of a water source. Groundwater’s age is a determining factor in planning the quantity that can be reasonably removed. “Young” water, water recently derived from rain, can be more readily used than “old water”. “Old water”, or fossil water, will obviously exist in a limited supply and therefore need to be managed more carefully.
Basically isotope hydrology is the analysis of water in order to determine the proportion of one particular isotope, Oxygen 18, to the more common Oxygen 16. Isotopes are forms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons.
Unfortunately the District does not have the resources necessary to conduct such analyses. Our lab does, however, have the ability to run a series of other water quality tests. While other tests are available, the basic tests we run are bacteria, pH, Nitrates, Sulfates, Iron, and Chloride. Of these tests, bacterial analysis is probably the most crucial to ascertaining the safety of drinking water. Our tests indicate the presence or absence of coliform, E. Coli, and fecal coliform. These tests are free to anybody living in the district. Not only will we conduct the analysis free of charge, but we will also go to the property and draw the sample if necessary.