As a nation, Americans use more than 75 billion gallons of groundwater each day. Tuesday is “Protect Your Groundwater Day,” a celebration of one of the nation’s critical resources and an opportunity to learn what individuals can do to protect and conserve groundwater.
Why protect groundwater?
Groundwater is one of the most important natural resources, making up 99 percent of all available freshwater on Earth.
Who uses groundwater?
About 45 percent of America’s population uses groundwater for all or part of its drinking water supply. This includes private household well owners and people on public water systems. According to an U.S. Geological Survey report approximately 79 percent of Minnesotans obtain their domestic water supplies from groundwater.
Who can protect groundwater?
Every individual can protect groundwater by adopting practices that prevent contamination or promote conservation.
Here’s how individuals can protect their groundwater:
1. Call the local waste authority about how to properly dispose of any hazardous household wastes – instead of putting them down the drain or toilet, dumping them on the ground, or throwing them in the trash.
2. Don’t waste water in the first place, and consider how water can be reused for another purpose when possible.
3. Install water-saving devices such as faucet aerators and water-efficient appliances.
4. Well owners should get yearly well inspections and water tests to detect any contamination that might be infiltrating the well and/or aquifer.
5. Homeowners, particularly where water wells have been used, should look for abandoned wells – then have a water well system professional determine whether the abandoned well has been properly decommissioned.
6. Properly maintain the septic system to avoid polluting groundwater.
Check out the National Protect Your Groundwater Day website at www.ngwa.org/Events-Education/groundwater-day/Pages/de fault.aspx to calculate water usage or to see suggestions on how to protect and conserve groundwater.
Visit the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Groundwater Information page, water.usgs.gov/ogw, for additional information on USGS groundwater quality and availability studies.