How does groundwater become contaminated

Groundwater contamination occurs all over the place and comes from two forms—point sources and nonpoint sources. Point source means that the contamination was discharged to the environment from some localized source, such as a dry-cleaning plant or from a factory or business that had a leaking pipe or had spilled the contaminants. Nonpoint sources include contamination that was distributed broadly across a wide environment. Pesticides often present nonpoint source contamination problems because they are introduced to the environment over large areas, by aerial spraying, or the like.

Nonpoint and point sources are both big problems and it is difficult at times to know where the source of the contamination came from. What you usually hear in the news is the point source contamination cases because you can get names of some companies who buried toxic materials in their backyards. Many of these are Superfund sites, which get a lot of press.

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