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The USGS Water Science School

Water Questions & Answers

Water at Home

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Water Questions & Answers
How is water supplied to our homes?

Not doubt in ancient times Jack the Caveman spent a lot of time making sure he and his clan had fresh water at home. Jack probably was very strong from hauling buckets full of water from the creek at the bottom of the hill up to his hillside mansion (and from having to haul wastewater back down to the creek). Many years ago when everyone lived in rural areas, people would have to get their own water from rivers or from local wells, any many people still do supply their own water. In every society much work goes into supplying our houses with water.

Nowadays, most people in the U.S. live in towns and cities, and communities have installed an organized structure called a public water-supply system to provide water to homes (and to some businesses and industries). You might know these entities as the county or city water department.

One way water is supplied to town residents is for the water department pump water from a reservoir, river, or well into a water tower, which often sits on high points in the town. The, using gravity (free!) the water flows through pipes all the way to the last house in your subdivision. In many rural areas where public water-supply systems don't exist, homeowners have their own wells, but often still fill up a tank which supplies the water used to cook their cauliflower and turnip greens.

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