The Source of Water
In the beginning, the earth was stored with water just as it was with metal, rock, etc. Some of the water gradually took the form of rivers, lakes, streams, and wells, as now, and it is this original supply of water which furnishes us all that we have to-day. We quarry to obtain stone and marble for building, and we fashion the earth's treasures into forms of our own, but we cannot create these things. We bore into the ground and drill wells in order to obtain water from hidden sources; we utilize rapidly flowing streams to drive the wheels of commerce, but the total amount of water remains practically unchanged.
The water which flows on the earth is constantly changing its form; the heat of the sun causes it to evaporate, or to become vapor, and to mingle with the atmosphere. In time, the vapor cools, condenses, and falls as snow or rain; the water which is thus returned to the earth feeds our rivers, lakes, springs, and wells, and these in turn supply water to man. When water falls upon a field, it soaks into the ground, or collects in puddles which slowly evaporate, or it runs off and drains into small streams or into rivers. That which soaks into the ground is the most valuable because it remains on the earth longest and is the purest.
Water which soaks into the ground moves slowly downward and after a longer or shorter journey, meets with a non-porous layer of rock through which it cannot pass, and which effectually hinders its downward passage. In such regions, there is an accumulation of water, and a well dug there would have an abundant supply of water. The non-porous layer is rarely level, and hence the water whose vertical path is obstructed does not "back up" on the soil, but flows down hill parallel with the obstructing non-porous layer, and in some distant region makes an outlet for itself, forming a spring. The streams originating in the springs flow through the land and eventually join larger streams or rivers; from the surface of streams and rivers evaporation occurs, the water once more becomes vapor and passes into the atmosphere, where it is condensed and again falls to the earth.
Water which has filtered through many feet of earth is far purer and safer than that which fell directly into the rivers, or which ran off from the land and joined the surface streams without passing through the soil.
FIG. - How springs are formed. A
, porous layer; B
, non-porous layer; C