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How is Water Filtered in Nature: The Various Ways of Natural Water Filtration

How is Water Filtered in Nature: The Methods of Natural Water Filtration

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Where there’s water, there’s life. We can all agree to this simple yet fundamental truth about water. You can live for more than a week with nothing to eat, but you can’t survive that long without water. This  amazing element of life has been around since the dawn of time.

How water nourishes life is one of the natural wonders of the world that  keeps us amazed, and you’ll be even more amazed to know how is water filtered in nature.

Increase of population and man made industrial  pollution is one of the biggest threats that we as a  society will ever  face. Even our municipal water supplies are not safe. Therefore, measures have been taken to ensure that we have technologies in place to protect us from this ever growing  threat and to reduce the amount of contaminants from our water supplies.

Water  filtration is a necessity to ensure that future generations have a sufficient supply of healthy water to drink.

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 How is Water Filtered in nature?

The method of how is water filtered in nature is the foundation of modern water filtration. Water is naturally filtered many different ways with the help of various agents. The primary natural filters are the soil and wetlands.

Soil: The Biggest Natural Filter on Earth

Any type of water which  can be consumed by the human race, be it rainwater, irrigation water, or greywater, must first flow through soil  that may contain  many different contaminants that must first be removed before  being consumed. These contaminants can be in the form of sediments, chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria or viruses, pesticides, fertilizers, and many more of the different materials that are most prevalent in the soil

Depending  upon the origin of the water entering the soil, one or a combination of contaminants may be present. Despite the number of contaminants that are contained in the soil, it has the unique ability to provide as much water filtration as needed in three different ways; physical, chemical, or biological.


  • Physical filtration method

The amazing process of how is water filtered in nature is very similar to how water is filtered with a simple screen. Large particles that are trapped within the soil  are sieved and held back by the top layer of soil.

But, unlike screens, where water simply passes through once in a straight path, the twisting path the water takes through all the different layers of soil actually enhance the filtration ability of the soil.

Most contaminants, particularly sediments and even some harmful bacteria are captured and removed from the water as it travels deeper down into the underground.

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  • Chemical filtration method

One of the most effective ways to filter and remove pollutants in water is through the process of absorption. Many soil particles that are present, such as clay are chemically activated with a negative charge. This negative charge makes the soil capable of effectively adsorbing positive charged contaminants such as organic chemicals, pesticides, and even some heavy metals.

Apart from adsorption, another great chemical process of filtering water through soil is the formation of covalent bonds. This mechanism also refers to the sharing of electrons which enables the soil to trap many pollutants such as pesticides and inorganic particles while letting the water to pass through.


  • Biological filtration method

While water nourishes all living creatures, soil also is very rich with life. There are a lot of microorganisms present in soil which aid in the water filtration process by acting as fantastic biological decomposers. They have the ability to degrade organic and inorganic chemicals which could be very harmful if   these chemicals found their way into our drinking water.

Some organic materials demand high biological oxygen which provides negative effects to water. These are very true in the case of certain contaminants found in livestock farms, food processing wastes, as well as wastewater treatment facilities. Soil microorganisms are very useful in degrading and decomposing such water pollutants.

Wetlands: A Great Sink that Filters Water

Wetlands take many forms. These are areas where water is covering the soil, such as, swamps, marshes, lakes, lagoons, and so on. The wetlands significant role in water flow is what makes them such a great natural water filter. As water passes through wetlands containing any sediments or contaminants, the flow of water slows down.

During this slowdown, sediments are trapped in the ground layer of the wetland and effectively removed from the water supply. The removal of contaminants helps both animals and plants to thrive in the wetlands, and  also helps whatever needs satisfy  thirst.

The toxins that are contained in these sediments are locked up in the sediment layer at the bottom of the stream or lake. This uppermost layer of sediment is also referred to as the hyporheic zone which is rich in microorganisms that can also can aid in the chemical and biological water filtration process. The harmful effects of such pollutants are effectively eliminated as long as the sediment layer stays undisturbed.

Key Takeaways

Clearly, nature works wonders in filtering water through many various methods.

Adsorption and chemical absorption as well as the actual  microorganisms decomposition process are all very important in  the natural water filtration process. Soils and living organisms, particularly in wetland areas, play a crucial role in removing both chemical and biological contaminants in water.

Unfortunately, the process of how water is filtered in natures setting has been disturbed and altered by human activities which degrade soil structure and change the composition of soil and water organisms.

Rapid urbanization and the increasing number of  residential and commercial developments have damaged our  natural water filtration system. This, in turn, allows more contaminants into water supplies that are detrimental to human survival.

Therefore, it has become essential that you know your options and consider some of the best water filtration products that are capable of minimizing and eliminating  the growing threat to your family drinking water.

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson is a water treatment consultant as well as a topic researcher and post editor for all posts on bestpurifiation.com.

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