Surface Water

Last updated: October 30, 2018

What Does Surface Water Mean?

Surface water is water that has collected at ground level and can be collected by precipitation. This water is naturally open to the atmosphere and may come from:

  • Streams
  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • Wetlands
  • Oceans

Surface water is an important natural resource used for many purposes, including:

  • Drinking water and other public uses
  • Irrigation
  • Thermoelectric-power industry to cool electricity-generating equipment

Corrosionpedia Explains Surface Water

Surface water is water on the surface of the planet. It can be contrasted with groundwater and atmospheric water.

Surface water can become polluted in a number of ways; dissolved and suspended solids are present in most surface waters. Surface water pollution occurs when hazardous substances come into contact and either dissolve or physically mix with the water. Because of the close relationship between sediments and surface water, contaminated sediments are often considered part of surface water contamination.

Due to the high cost of drinking water and the fact that water is not always available, it is becoming increasingly common for industries and municipalities use treated surface water. Two processes commonly used to treat surface water are:

  • Conventional treatment, including clarification (coagulation/flocculation, sedimentation or dissolved air flotation), sand filtration, activated carbon adsorption and disinfection
  • Advanced treatment based on ultrafiltration technology

The physical and chemical characteristics of surface water contamination vary considerably over time. A sudden storm can cause a dramatic short-term change in the composition of a water supply. Over a longer period, surface water chemistry varies with the seasons. Industrial users must take surface water variability into account when designing water treatment plants and programs.

Untreated surface water causes corrosion in industrial equipment and reduces efficiency of processes. Therefore, purification of surface water is needed before use in industrial applications.


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