LINCOLN - Groundwater – it’s the water we drink and the water that grows our food. As the word suggests, it’s the water that’s hidden beneath our feet in the cracks and crevices in the rocks and sands beneath the Earth’s surface.
Groundwater is important to everyone and everything. During National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17, 2018, The Groundwater Foundation urges everyone to learn more about groundwater resources and find ways to protect it in your home and community.
According to National Groundwater Association (NGWA), sponsor of National Groundwater Awareness Week, the United States uses nearly 80 billion gallons of groundwater per day for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and other purposes. Irrigation accounts for the largest use of groundwater in the United States, about 67.2 percent of all the groundwater pumped each day. Some 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation, helping feed the world. Around 45 percent of the U.S. population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply, and more than 13.2 million households have their own well, representing 34 million people.
Established in 1999, National Groundwater Awareness Week is an opportunity for people to learn about the importance of groundwater and how the resource impacts lives. “Approximately 132 million Americans rely on groundwater for drinking water, so, simply put, the resource makes life possible,” said Aaron Martin, public relations and awareness manager of NGWA.
“We all rely on groundwater in some way,” says Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President. “It’s up to all of us to be part of the solution to protecting it. Collectively we make a difference!”
The 2018 Awareness Week theme is “Tend. Test. Treat.” to encourage a holistic approach to sustain an adequate supply of quality water. Testing your water might prompt well inspection and maintenance, and water treatment can mitigate naturally occurring contamination revealed by the test. So, test your water, tend to your well system, then treat the water if necessary.
Groundwater is constantly threatened by overuse and contamination. You can be part of the solution by making small changes that cumulatively have a big impact:
*Conserve water inside and outside your home by taking short showers instead of baths, running full loads of dishes and laundry, checking for and repairing leaky faucets and fixtures, watering outdoors only when necessary, and using native plants in your landscaping that require less water.
*Track your daily water use to identify where you can use less. Try the free 30by30 app and start tracking today (www.groundwater.org/action/home/30by30.html)
*Always follow label instructions for household chemicals, and look for ways to decrease or eliminate fertilizer and pesticide usage.
*Dispose of chemicals properly by taking them to recycling centers or household hazardous waste collections.
*If you have a private well on your property, have the well inspected by a licensed water well contractor and the water tested once a year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, and any other contaminants of local concern.
*Find out about your community’s drinking water source and mobilize to protect it. The Groundwater Guardian program (www.groundwater.org/groundwaterguardian) is a good place to get started.
*Teach others about ways to protect and preserve groundwater.