We all rely on groundwater in some way, and groundwater relies on us to protect it.
September 1st marks the annual Protect Your Groundwater Day. An annual event established to highlight use, consumption and management of groundwater. An immense amount of water is kept underground below the earth's surface. In fact, there is over a thousand times more water in the ground than there is in all the world's rivers and lakes. Groundwater is used for drinking water by more than 50 percent of the people in the United States.
Groundwater supplies are replenished, or recharged, by rain and snowmelt that seeps down into the cracks and crevices beneath the land's surface. In some areas of the world, people face serious water shortages because groundwater is used faster than it is naturally replenished. In other areas groundwater is polluted by human activities, including landfills, septic tanks, leaky underground gas tanks, and from overuse of fertilizers and pesticides. If groundwater becomes polluted, it will no longer be safe to drink.
Some simple ways you can protect groundwater.
1. Use native plants in your landscape - They look great, and don't need much water or fertilizer. Also choose grass varieties for your lawn that are adapted for your region's climate, reducing the need for extensive watering or chemical applications.
2. Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly - don't dump them on the ground! Potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances can have devastating effects on groundwater. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites - contact your local health department to find one near you.
3. Don't Let It Run - Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or while shaving, and don't let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead.
4. Fix the Drip - Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away, or install water-conserving models. Wash Smarter - Limit yourself to just a five-minute shower, and challenge your family members to do the same! Also, make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washer.
5. Use Water Wisely - Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it. Make sure you, your family, and your neighbors obey any watering restrictions during dry periods.
6. Natural Alternatives - Use all-natural / nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.
7. Learn and Do More! Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others.
How trees protect and clean our water.
A staggering 99 percent of all available freshwater comes from underground aquifers. Most surface bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, and streams are connected to groundwater. Taking good care of our lakes, rivers, and forests has a direct effect on drinkable groundwater.
Trees play a significant role in protecting groundwater. They improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the Earth, helping it soak better into the soil. Their roots act as sponges, absorbing water and filtering pollutants. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways and can lessen flood damage. Trees serve as natural filters to protect our streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater and are the most effective land cover for maintenance of water quality.
Maintaining groundwater quality and quantity is something we all have to commit to if we wish to continue drinking clean water. Everyone can and should make a difference!