Sources of water
Further information: Water supply
Groundwater: The water emerging from some deep ground water may have fallen as rain many tens, hundreds, or thousands of years ago. Soil and rock layers naturally filter the ground water to a high degree of clarity and often it does not require additional treatment other than adding chlorine or chloramines as secondary disinfectants. Such water may emerge as springs, artesian springs, or may be extracted from boreholes or wells. Deep ground water is generally of very high bacteriological quality (i.e., pathogenic bacteria or the pathogenic protozoa are typically absent), but the water may be rich in dissolved solids, especially carbonates and sulfates of calcium and magnesium. Depending on the strata through which the water has flowed, other ions may also be present including chloride, and bicarbonate. There may be a requirement to reduce the iron or manganese content of this water to make it acceptable for drinking, cooking, and laundry use. Primary disinfection may also be required. Where groundwater recharge is practised (a process in which river water is injected into an aquifer to store the water in times of plenty so that it is available in times of drought), the groundwater may require additional treatment depending on applicable state and federal regulations.
Upland lakes and reservoirs: Typically located in the headwaters of river systems, upland reservoirs are usually sited above any human habitation and may be surrounded by a protective zone to restrict the opportunities for contamination. Bacteria and pathogen levels are usually low, but some bacteria, protozoa or algae will be present. Where uplands are forested or peaty, humic acids can colour the water. Many upland sources have low pH which require adjustment.
Rivers, canals and low land reservoirs: Low land surface waters will have a significant bacterial load and may also contain algae, suspended solids and a variety of dissolved constituents.
Atmospheric water generation is a new technology that can provide high quality drinking water by extracting water from the air by cooling the air and thus condensing water vapor.
Rainwater harvesting or fog collection which collect water from the atmosphere can be used especially in areas with significant dry seasons and in areas which experience fog even when there is little rain.
Desalination of seawater by distillation or reverse osmosis.
Surface Water: Freshwater bodies that are open to the atmosphere and are not designated as groundwater are termed surface waters.