A natural disaster can have a major impact on communities and citizens. In 2017 alone, the U.S. realized $306.2 billion in damage related to weather and climate disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Though devastating, material damage, injuries and deaths aren't the only negative impact powerful storms can have on a community. Natural disasters can also wreak havoc on groundwater and water supply systems.
Here's what you need to know about common weather and climate disasters and how they affect your drinking water:
Wildfires raged through the Western states in 2017, and continue to burn in 2018. Last year, two wildfires caused more than $1 billion in damage, according to the NOAA. As flames blaze through forests and vegetation, their roots are destroyed and the soil becomes more prone to erosion, Water Quality Products Magazine explained.
As the soil erodes, it makes its way into the groundwater system. The excess soil brings nutrients and debris the system is not prepared to handle and increases the risk of algae blooms and clogged filters. Additionally, naturally occurring chemicals can react with treatment chemicals to create chloroform.
Earthquakes are largely unpredictable, but when they occur, they can cause fluctuations in water availability, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Oscillations are the most common effect of earthquakes, but offsets are the most frequently recorded. Offsets can cause water levels to go up or down; some wells may run at ground level during or following an earthquake, while others may go completely dry.
A major Virginia earthquake in 2011, for example, caused groundwater levels to drop in five of six wells in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania. One - the Pocahontas formation in West Virginia - experienced a rise in ground water levels following the quake.
Hydrogeochemical changes, increased discharge or heightened turbidity can all contribute to changes in water quality as well, USGS reported. These can have adverse effects on plant and animal life, but could pose a problem to consumer wells, too.
Two major flooding events in 2017 - one in California and the other in Missouri and Arkansas - caused more than $1 billion in damage. Flooding can overwhelm groundwater wells, a 2016 press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported.
As waters rapidly rise, bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants can run into water systems. These may originate from farms, septic systems and other sources, and are very hard to control. The DNR warned that consumers who "observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated," and noted that water quality can be affected even when there aren't major signs of flooding.
Having access to clean, safe water is a basic necessity. Unfortunately, certain circumstances can lead to contamination in private wells. It's important that consumers who are affected by natural disasters understand how these weather events can affect their own drinking water.
If your consumers have experienced wildfires, earthquakes, flooding or another natural disaster, provide resources that can help ensure their water supply is healthy. Remind them of any testing, repair or water filtration system installation services you offer. And, to reduce the cost to the consumer, let them know about your financing programs. To learn more about offering financing from your dealership, reach out to Aqua Finance.