People may get their potable (drinking) water from a community source, such as a public or private water utility, or from an individual private source, such as a residential well. Water supplied to members of the public from private sources (usually, wells) by hotels, gasoline stations, camps, and similar small institutions are referred to as noncommunity sources. Potable water is also used for food preparation, cleaning dishes and clothes, and washing and bathing, as well as for direct ingestion. In most cases it is also used for flushing toilets and watering lawns and gardens, although in areas with limited supplies a separate nonpotable source may be used for these purposes. Industries commonly use potable water for their process water needs, sometimes following further purification. After use, much of the water from homes and industry becomes wastewater.
Other types of water that might be involved in disease transmission include recreational waters (such as rivers, lakes, and oceans) used for swimming and other water contact sports, swimming pool water, and irrigation water. Some natural waters are used for fish and shellfish harvesting. Industrial cooling waters may be from a potable source, or from ground or surface waters. Also, of course, there is precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, hail) and stormwater runoff.
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