Where do rivers get their water from?
Do you sometimes wonder where the water comes from that we drink from the tap every day? In Austria, 100 percent of the water that flows from the aqueduct in houses comes from spring and groundwater. Around 90 percent of households get their drinking water from around 5,500 central water supply systems, the remaining 10 percent take it from domestic wells and other own water resources. This is often the case in rural areas.
Well systems are built to bring the groundwater, which is created by precipitation seeping into the ground, to the surface. To extract the groundwater, different types of wells (e.g. drilled wells, shaft wells) are built depending on the depth of the groundwater table and the subsurface.
As soon as the groundwater has reached the surface, the so-called "raw water" flows into the nearest waterworks via feeder pipes. There the water quality is continuously checked so that it can be safely consumed as drinking water. In order to distribute the high-quality water to Austrian households, there is an almost 80,000 km long underground pipeline network.
The natural filter:
Austria's groundwater is of very good quality even before it reaches the waterworks. As a rule, springs that emerge directly, such as those found when hiking in the mountains, are of drinking water quality. This water is basically precipitation water, which is cleaned and stored in karstified or fissured rock bodies over long distances and emerges as spring water in impermeable layers. But why can you immediately drink water that comes straight from the sandy, earthy soil in the valleys?
So to speak, the soil is an ideal, natural filter: when rain hits the surface of the earth and seeps into the ground, the water flows through several layers of sand and gravel. These clean the rainwater, at the same time enrich it with minerals and when it then collects over a water-impermeable layer, the filtered water has drinking water quality. Depending on the composition of the rock in the subsoil, there may occasionally be natural or geogenic, i.e. mineral accumulations that have arisen in the earth, in which case mineral springs are used.
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