The complicated process of a simple commodity – Water

By 20 November 2019 General

Water, we need it to survive and we are one of the countries which are lucky enough to have it safely running straight into our homes. ‘Worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.  But, is our tap water actually safe? And exactly how does it get into our homes. As a natural resource we take it for granted and forget that we are lucky enough to have it readily available to us. In least developed countries, 22% of health care facilities have no water service, 21% no sanitation service, and 22% no waste management service. Source: World Health Organisation (WHO).

Types of water source

Water can be split into two categories, surface water and groundwater. Let’s talk about ‘groundwater’ first.  Groundwater is sourced through Aquifers, these are veins or underground reservoirs of water that are found deep in the ground. Produced through water seeping through the ground following rainfall. The only way to access these, is through drilling deep into the ground to create a well, utilising this to pump it to the surface.  Although, not common, people do have private wells on their property and as with public water, the source from these wells is groundwater also obtained from an aquifer.

Surface water, as the name suggests, is found above ground level i.e. lakes, rivers and streams. In the case of public consumption, the water is drawn to a specific location, where it can be analysed and treated.  After rigorous testing it will be directed out to customers.

As surface water sources are easier to process, it is the preferred option for water in the UK. However, it is recognised that millions of people around the world do use groundwater wells, highlighting that both sources are used prevalently in the system of processing water into homes.

How is it cleaned and made safe?

No matter where the water is sourced, it must always be filtered and treated with chemicals to remove any impurities, this ensures our drinking water is safe for consumption. This process is conducted by the public water utilities who invest vast amounts of money to guarantee the water we drink remains pure and free from harmful bacteria. ‘British tap water is among the best in the world. Millions of tests are conducted annually to guarantee the best possible quality of water for consumers. That makes tap water the most regulated drink out there.’ Water UK

It has the green light. What next?

Once the water has been filtered, treated and deemed safe to drink, it becomes known as ‘portable water’ and is stored in reservoirs.  At this stage of the process it gets pumped out through underground pipes, via the water mains, to our houses.  The plumbing is a complex system of pipework.  A special water pipe, which is known as a service lateral line, connects the water main to your property.

Emergency water

Of course, there are also times when emergency supplies of water are needed, such as for use putting out fires by the emergency services and to provide water when it’s lost through a water main leak. To be able to address these needs, water is stored in large water tanks that are located in remote areas, containing thousands of gallons of water.  This is made available for dispatch when required.

So, the next time you instinctively turn your tap, you might be more inclined to reflect on the water which is being simply emitted and appreciate how lucky we are. As well as understanding that a complicated process has taken place and a lot of behind the scene work to deliver it to you.

Ensure you get the best water service possible for your business, contact our Water Team today to discuss your options; 02476 997 901 /


Article written by: Gemma Kingsley, Water Consultant