Can Volcanic ash affect drinking water?

Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – There are several questions that come to mind whenever there is increased seismicity at a volcano and the possibility of an explosive eruption.

The La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines experienced an effusive eruption on December 29, 2020, but officials say it is possible for it to escalate into an explosive one which would likely produce major ashfall.

A major question surrounding volcanic activity is how ashfall can affect the supply of drinking water.

The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that water be stored and bottled water be purchased as part of emergency plans.

The US Geological Survey speaks about the vulnerability of water treatment systems to ashfall.

The following article from the US Geological Survey shares some insights on the issue:

Fresh water supply and wastewater collection and treatment become vulnerable during a volcanic ashfall, which can:

  • cause changes to water quality in raw water sources.
  • create high water demand during the cleanup phase, which can in turn lead to water shortages.
  • cause operational problems for water treatment plants.

An increased water demand is extremely common following an ashfall, as the cleanup phase begins, which should be anticipated and planned for.

Further research is underway for ash-related mitigation measures for water supply and changes in water chemistry resulting from volcanic ash following historical volcanic eruptions. Please contact the Volcanic Ash Web Team for suggestions and contributions.

Turbidity affects water quality and water treatment.

Turbidity is a measure of the degree to which the water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particulates. The more suspended material in the water, the higher the turbidity. Volcanic ashfalls can increase water turbidity if the finer particles remain suspended in the water. In general, the major water quality affect of ashfall on raw water sources is increased turbidity rather than changes in chemical composition.

READ MORE BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanic_ash/water_supply.html#:~:text=Fresh%20water%20supply%20and%20wastewater,problems%20for%20water%20treatment%20plants.

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