DRINKING WATER CONTAMINATION: A NEW EARTHINQUIRY ACTIVITY FOR 2004
In the new Drinking Water Contamination activity, students first learn about the history and importance of drinking water treatment. An introduction to the EPAs Safe Drinking Water Act allows students to familiarize themselves with how contaminants are defined and reported. As students continue with the investigation, they use arsenic and nitrate data to discover how contaminant concentrations can vary spatially. The groundwater arsenic data enable students to examine national arsenic distribution, state-to-state comparisons, and even variances by county. Using groundwater nitrate data, students consider infiltration versus runoff as variables influencing contaminants in the drinking water supply and how a contaminants concentration can change through time. The nitrate data also enable students to evaluate the impact of water contaminants on ecosystem health. The variety of data and map types used in this activity help students appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of presenting data in different ways and the role of both natural and anthropogenic sources on the presence of contaminants in the water supply.