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Waste and Water Issues You Should Know about for the Real Estate License Exam

Water supply is a major environment issue in the United States. You are bound to see a few questions on the Real Estate License Exam regarding this issue. Without a sufficient supply of clean, drinkable water, development of real estate for homes and businesses is impossible.

Water pollution

The term domestic water is used to describe the water you drink, cook with, and take a shower in. Domestic water comes from groundwater sources, which can be either reservoirs or underground water supplies, sometimes called aquifers. Groundwater supplies are subject to pollution from many sources ranging from the chemicals you put on your lawn to the oil on the highways.

In some places water is supplied to homes and businesses through the local government, a public water supply agency or commission, or a privately owned water supply company. The system of supply is generally from a reservoir or series of wells through a system of pipes to your home or business. Sometimes, in between the supply and the distribution pipes, the water may be treated or filtered in some way.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public water supply systems be tested regularly.

Those people who aren’t served by a public or private water supply system get their water from individual on-site water supply systems called wells. Wells may (and sometimes are required to) be tested for the presence of pollutants and for adequacy of supply.

Check your local state regulations regarding mandatory testing of wells. Many places require wells to be tested for pollution and adequate pressure when a new well is drilled. Testing may be optional after that. Also find out what agency reviews the test results. Local health departments or environmental departments are typically the review agencies.

Sanitary waste disposal

Sanitary waste is what goes out the drain pipe of your house from the sinks, showers, toilets, and washing machines. Of course, it’s not sanitary but must be treated in a sanitary manner to prevent pollution and illness.

Ideally when you flush, it becomes someone else’s problem. The waste from your house travels through sewer pipes and eventually is treated at a sewage treatment plant, usually operated by the city, town, or county. If you live in a large residential complex or work in an office building that has no sewers, a small, nearby treatment plant may service your building or housing complex.

In many areas, sewage disposal is handled by individual on-site disposal systems called septic systems. In this case when you flush, it’s still your problem because septic systems have to be maintained by periodically pumping them. The septic tank is one of two parts of a septic system. The other part is the leach fields, which are also called absorption fields or septic fields.

The size of a septic system varies and is generally sized according to the number of bedrooms in a house. The location of the leach fields as well as the feasibility of using a septic system is determined by the capacity of the soil to absorb leachate. Leachate is the liquid that comes out of the septic tank after all the solids have settled to the bottom of the tank.

The capacity of the soil to absorb leachate is tested by doing a percolation or perc test. Where there are wells and septic systems in the same area or on the same property, local authorities establish minimum distances that have to be maintained between the septic system and the well.

Storm water disposal

Storm water is rainwater that comes down into the streets that must be disposed of to avoid flooding of streets and houses. Generally storm drains in the streets that lead to storm sewers dispose the storm water and take it directly to lakes, rivers, or the ocean.

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