Where Does Our Water Come From?

Drinking water comes from either surface water or groundwater, depending on where you live.

Surface Water

If you live in a town or city, your water most likely comes from surface waters. Surface water is the water that fills our streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Precipitation like rain or snow adds water to these sources.

Public water supply companies treat these surface waters at a water treatment plant and then the water is pumped to our homes, businesses, and through an underground series of distribution pipes. Large metropolitan areas often have thousands of miles of complex piping systems to provide for growing communities.

Nationwide, drinking water treatment plants treat approximately 34 billion gallons of water every day.


If you live in a rural area where city water may not reach you, your water supply comes from groundwater. Wells are the primary source for attaining clean drinking water in remote areas.

A well is drilled into an underground aquifer to access the groundwater. The water is then pumped to the surface for use. Small scale water systems tend to rely on groundwater for all potable water.

Water Supply Sources

Here is a list of the various water sources for communities throughout Alamance County:

Lake Mackintosh
Photo © Stormwater SMART
Stoney Creek Reservoir
Stoney Creek Reservoir
Photo © Burlington Recreation & Parks
graham mebane lake
Graham-Mebane Lake
Photo © City of Graham


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