GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Acre-Foot

This unit of measurement is used in the water industry to describe large quantities of water, such as the capacity of a reservoir. One acre-foot equals approximately 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover one acre of land (about the size of a football field) one foot deep in water. One acre-foot of water is enough to meet the needs of an average family for two years.

Advanced treatment

 

Additional treatment processes used to clean wastewater even further following primary and secondary treatment. Also known as tertiary treatment.

Aquifer

 

Underground rock, sand or gravel formations which store water. Irvine Ranch Water District supplies about 50 percent of its water needs from the aquifers that make up the Orange County Groundwater Basin.

Contaminate

 

To make unclean or impure by the addition of harmful substances.

Dam

 

A barrier built across a river or stream to hold water.

Desalination

 

Removing salts from salt water by evaporation or distillation.

Disinfect

 

To destroy disease-causing organisms in water.

Groundwater

 

Water located beneath the earth’s surface.

Household hazardous waste

 

Any product found in the home or garage that can be hazardous to the environment if not disposed of correctly. Examples of household hazardous waste include cleaning solutions, pesticides, pool chemicals, motor oil, antifreeze, or used batteries.

Hydrologic Cycle

 

See Water Cycle.

MAF

 

Million acre-feet

Microbes

 

Microscopic living plants and animals.

Microorganism

 

An animal or plant of microscopic size.

Mulch

 

Any substance such as leaves, bark, compost, or straw which is spread on the ground to protect roots of plants from heat, cold or excessive dryness.

Non-point source pollution

 

Pollution that is so general or covers such a wide area that no single, localized source of the pollution can be identified.

Organism

 

Any living plant or animal.

Percolation

 

The movement of water through soil, sand, gravel, etc.

Point source pollution

 

An identifiable source of pollution.

Precipitation

 

Water from the atmosphere that falls to the ground as a liquid (rain) or a solid (snow, sleet, hail).

Reservoir

 

A place where water is stored until it is needed. A reservoir can be an open lake or an enclosed storage tank.

Settle

 

To clarify water by causing impurities or solid material to sink to the bottom of the container.

Sewer

 

The system of pipes that carries wastewater from homes and businesses to a treatment plant or reclamation plant. Sewers are separate from storm drains, which is a system of drains and pipes that carry rain water from urban streets back to the ocean. Overwatering your yard can also cause water to run into the streets and into storm drains. Storm drain water is not treated before it is discharged.

Storm Drain

 

The system of pipes that carries rain water from urban streets back to the ocean. Overwatering your yard can also cause water to run into the streets and into storm drains. Storm drain water is not treated before it is discharged. Storm drains are separate from sewers, which is a separate system of pipes to carry wastewater from homes and businesses to a treatment plant or reclamation plant for cleaning.

Transpiration

 

The process by which a plant gives off water into the atmosphere. This is part of the water cycle.

Water conservation

 

Using water wisely and efficiently so that it is not wasted.

Water Cycle

 

The continuous process of surface water (puddles, lakes, oceans) evaporating from the sun’s heat to become water vapor (gas) in the atmosphere. Water condenses into clouds and then falls back to earth as rain or snow (precipitation). Some precipitation soaks into the ground (percolation) to replenish groundwater supplies in underground aquifers.

Water table

 

The top level of water stored underground.

Watershed

 

The lands above a given point on a waterway that contribute water run-off.

Wetland

 

Any area in which the water table stands near, at, or above the land surface for at least part of the year. Such areas are characterized by plants that are adapted to wet soil conditions.


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