Spring Water Problems

The Ozarks has many springs. Some are huge pouring out thousands of gallons of water. Most are small and enticed people to use them for house water. Spring water problems are many.

Reading some old books (“Canoe Country” and “Snowshoe Country” by Florence Page Jaques) from around 1940, the author tells of going down to the lake and bringing back water for use in the house. Times have changed.

Surface waters are usually full of pollutants now. Giardia is found even in clear mountain streams. Ozark springs are surface water.

spring box shows spring water problems
Ozark spring water comes bubbling up often looking clear, cold, refreshing. Using it for house water calls for special measures from covering the spring box to keep out the leaves, creatures and dirt to filtering out unwanted bacteria.

Many people see the springs gushing out of deep caves and think the water has been safely filtered underground. The Ozarks is Karst, limestone and dolomite rocks riddled with holes from slightly acidic rain seeping down through cracks and between layers. The water is not filtered.

Karst is known for caves. Some caves collapse and become sinkholes. For many such holes were great trash dumps.

Walking past a nearby spring today I was reminded of these spring water problems. An inch and a half of rain had fallen the night before. The old cement spring box was full and pouring out water over the top. This was water from the hill above the spring.

old spring shows more spring water problems
No one has used this spring box for water for decades. The spring still runs. Rain makes the spring overflow the box.

This spring was never used for a house. The next spring down still is used. I found out about spring water problems talking to the owners as I mention using springs in “The City Water Project”.

Spring boxes have gravel in the bottom to filter out mud. A pipe comes up through the gravel and captures the water carrying it with the help of a jet pump through a filter and into a pressure tank. More filters are used on the faucets in the house.

water cress supply
Water cress loves shallow cold water like this from the old spring. Recent rain has raised the water level. Soon it will drop again. With warmer weather the water cress will grow big enough for lots of good eating.

I was told that big floods can bring mud into the gravel so it must be replaced. The filters are used to strain out as many pollutants and bacteria as possible. The water has never made anyone sick.

Are drilled wells safer? People think so. For me I will avoid spring water problems using a drilled well for water, but the spring water grows great water cress.

Water cress is one of the wild greens found in the Ozarks. Read more about it in “Exploring the Ozark Hills.”