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Water glossary



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Water Glossary - W

  • Wafer fabrication rinse sink: Apparatus used during manufacturing to rinse debris and contamination from the circular configuration of semiconductor chips.

  • Waste disposal system: A system for the disposing of wastes, either by surface or underground methods; includes sewer systems, treatment works, and disposal wells.

  • Wastewater: Water containing waste including greywater, blackwater or water contaminated by waste contact, including process-generated and contaminated rainfall runoff.

  • Wastewater infrastructure: The plan or network for the collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage in a community.

  • Wastewater treatment: The processing of wastewater for the removal or reduction of contained solids or other undesirable constituents.

  • Wastewater treatment plant: A facility containing a series of tanks, screens, filters, and other processes by which pollutants are removed from water.

  • Wastewater-treatment return flow: Water returned to the hydrologic system by wastewater-treatment facilities.

  • Water: The liquid that descends from the clouds as rain; forms streams, lakes, and seas, and is a major constituent of all living matter. It is an odorless, tasteless, colorless, very slightly compressible liquid.

  • Water audit: Program involving sending trained water auditors to participating family homes, free of charge, to identify water conservation opportunities such as repairing leaks and installing lowflow plumbing and to recommend changes in water use practices to reduce home water use.

  • Water conservation: Activities designed to reduce the demand for water, improve efficiency in use, and reduce losses and waste of water.

  • Water contamination: Impairment of water quality to a degree that reduces the usability of the water for ordinary purposes or creates a hazard to public health through poisoning or the spread of diseases.

  • Water cycle: Natural pathway water follows as it changes between liquid, solid, and gaseous states; biogeochemical cycle that moves and recycles water in various forms through the ecosphere. Also called the hydrologic cycle.

  • Water management: The study, planning, monitoring, and application of quantitative and qualitative control and development techniques for long-term, multiple use of the diverse forms of water resources.

  • Water monitoring: The process of constant control of a body of water by means of sampling and analyses.

  • Water pollution: Industrial and institutional wastes and other harmful or objectionable material in sufficient quantities to result in a measurable degradation of the water quality.

  • Water quality: A term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water with respect to its suitability for a particular use.

  • Water quality criteria: Scientifically derived ambient limits developed and updated by EPA, under section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act, for specific pollutants of concern. Criteria are recommended concentrations, levels, or narrative statements that should not be exceeded in a waterbody in order to protect aquatic life or human health.

  • Water quality guidelines: Specific levels of water quality that, if reached, are expected to render a body of water suitable for its designated use. The criteria are based on specific levels of pollutants that would make the water harmful if used for drinking, swimming, farming, fish production, or industrial processes.

  • Water quality standards: Laws or regulations, promulgated under Section 303 of the Clean Water Act, that consist of the designated use or uses of a waterbody or a segment of a waterbody and the water quality criteria that are necessary to protect the use or uses of that particular waterbody. Water quality standards also contain an antidegradation statement. Every State is required to develop water quality criteria standards applicable to the various waterbodies within the State and revise them every 3 years.

  • Water quality-based toxics control: An integrated strategy used in NPDES permitting to assess and control the discharge of toxic pollutants to surface waters. There are two approaches: the whole-effluent approach involves the use of toxicity tests to measure discharge toxicity; the chemical specific approach involves the use of water quality criteria or State standards to limit specific toxic pollutants directly.

  • Water recycling: Reuse of water for the same application for which it was originally used.

  • Water reuse: Using wastewater or reclaimed water from one application for another application. The deliberate use of reclaimed water or wastewater must be in compliance with applicable rules for a beneficial purpose (landscape irrigation, agricultural irrigation, aesthetic uses, ground water recharge, industrial uses, and fire protection).

  • Water solubility: The maximum possible concentration of a chemical compound dissolved in water.

  • Water storage pond: An impound for liquid wastes designed to accomplish some degree of biochemical treatment.

  • Water supply system: The collection, treatment, storage, and distribution of potable water from source to consumer.

  • Water surcharge: Imposition of a higher rate on excessive water use.

  • Water system: A river and all its branches.

  • Water table: Level below the earth's surface at which the ground becomes saturated with water. The surface of an unconfined aquifer which fluctuates due to seasonal precipitation.

  • Water table aquifer: An aquifer confined only by atmospheric pressure (water levels will not rise in the well above the confining bed).

  • Water transfer: Artificial conveyance of water from one area to another across a political or hydrological boundary. This is referred to as an import or export of water from one basin or county to another.

  • Water use: 1) In a restrictive sense, the term refers to water that is actually used for a specific purpose such as domestic use, irrigation, or industrial processing. 2) More broadly, water use pertains to human’s interaction with and influence on the hydrologic cycle, and includes elements such as water withdrawals, deliveries, consumptive use, wastewater releases, reclaimed wastewater, return flow and instream use.

  • Water use efficiency: Employing water-saving practices to reduce costs and to slow the depletion of the water supply to ensure future water availability.

  • Water well: Any artificial excavation constructed for the purpose of exploring for or producing ground water.

  • Water year: The 12-month period, usually October 1 through September 30. The water year is designated by the calendar year in which it ends and which includes 9 of the 12 months. Thus, the year ending September 30, 1998 is called the1998 Water Year.

  • Waterfall: A sudden, nearly vertical drop in a stream, as it flows over rock.

  • Waterlogging: Saturation of soil with irrigation water so the water table rises close to the surface.

  • Watermaster: An employee of a water department who distributes available water supply at the request of water right holders and collects hydrographic data.

  • Water-resources region: Designated natural drainage basin or hydrologic area that contains either the drainage area of a major river or the combined drainage areas of two or more rivers; of 21 regions, 18 are in the conterminous United States, and one each are in Alaska, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. (See map on inside of front cover.).

  • Water-resources subregion: The 21 designated water-resources regions of the United States are subdivided into 222 subregions. Each subregion includes that area drained by a river system, a reach of a river and its tributaries in that reach, a closed basin(s), or a group of streams forming a coastal drainage system.

  • Watershed: Land area from which water drains toward a common watercourse in a natural basin.

  • Watthour (Wh): An electrical energy unit of measure equal to one watt of power supplied to, or taken from, an electrical circuit steadily for one hour.

  • Weather: Day to day variation in atmospheric conditions. Compare climate.

  • Weir: A spill over device used to measure or control water flows.

  • Well: A pit, hole, or shaft sunk into the earth to tap an underground source of water.

  • Well capping: Capping of abandoned artesian wells whose rusted casings spill water in a constant flow into drainage ditches.

  • Wet deposition: See acid rain.

  • Wetland: Area that is regularly wet or flooded and has a water table that stands at or above the land surface for at least part of the year, such as a bog, pond, fen, estuary, or marsh.

  • Wettability: The relative degree to which a fluid will spread into solid surface in the presence of other immiscible fluids.

  • Whole-effluent toxicity: The aggregate toxic effect of an effluent measured directly by a toxicity test.

  • W-Index: An index of water efficiency used as a device for evaluating residential water savings and as a management tool to motivate water-saving practices. The index provides a calculated numerical value for each dwelling unit, derived from the number and kind of water-saving features present, including indoor and outdoor water savers and water harvesting or recycling systems.

  • Winter/summer ratio: Comparison of metered water use during the winter period to consumption during the corresponding summer period. A higher rate or surcharge is imposed for water consumption above the average winter use.

  • Withdrawal: Water removed from the ground or diverted from a surface-water source. The amount of water withdrawn may not equal the amount of water used due to water transfers or the recirculation or recycling of the same water. For example, a power plant may use the same water multiple times but withdraw a significantly different amount.

  • Withdrawal use: The act of removing water from surface water or groundwater sources in order to use it.

Water glossary