Frequently Asked Questions About Source Water

Where does drinking water come from?

Photo by - woman drinking water If you live in a large metropolitan area, most of your drinking water probably comes from a surface source such as a lake, stream, river, or reservoir. Sometimes these sources are close to the community, and sometimes they are many miles away.

If you live in a small community or in an isolated area, it's more likely that your water originates underground and is pumped to the surface through a well. Ground water comes from natural underground formations, often consisting of sand or gravel, that contain water. These formations are called aquifers.

If you own a private well, you're responsible for making sure that the water is safe to drink. Private wells are not regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) drinking water standards.

Water Cycle by NASA
Water Cycle image provided by NASA Oceanography

This information is adapted from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Source Water Protection Web site found at