National Groundwater Awareness Week: Responsible development, management, use of key resource highlighted

For the Tomahawk Leader

UNITED STATES – The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and The Groundwater Foundation recently announced that Groundwater Awareness Week (GWAW) would take place this week, from Sunday, March 6 through Saturday, March 12.

“An annual observance established in 1999 to highlight the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater, the event is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance, and the promotion of policies impacting groundwater quality and supply,” NGWA said. “Groundwater advocates across the country also use GWAW to highlight local water issues in their communities.”

This year, NGWA and its partners will be focusing their advocacy on promoting professional opportunities in the groundwater industry. According to the American Geoscience Institute, nationally there are more than 135,000 open positions in the industry now, which is far too high to keep up with consumer demand, NGWA noted.

NGWA said that because over 44% of the population depends on groundwater as a primary water source, developing an interest the groundwater industry is of vital importance to both the health and economy of the country. Groundwater professionals span a wide variety of careers and skills, including well contractors, hydrogeologist, groundwater policy advocates, and suppliers and manufacturers of groundwater technology.

GWAW also serves as an annual reminder for water well owners to test, tend, and treat their private water systems. NGWA encourages annual inspections of private water systems by certified water well contractors to ensure systems are operating correctly and producing safe and healthy water.

To find tip sheets on water well maintenance and a “Find A Contractor” page that allows the public to find certified local water well contractors in their area, visit

Facts about groundwater

  • The Oglalla Aquifer stretches more than 450,000 square kilometers (174,000 square miles) through parts of the U.S. states of South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to National Geographic. The Oglalla Aquifer holds more than 3,000 cubic kilometers (2.4 billion acre-feet) of groundwater.
  • The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Of the estimated 29 billion gallons of water used daily by households in the U.S., nearly 9 billion gallons, or 30%, is devoted to outdoor water use, according to EPA’s WaterSense program. In the hot summer months, or in dry climates, a household’s outdoor water use can be as high as 70%.
  • The United States uses 82.3 billion gallons of fresh groundwater per day for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and other purposes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ways to protect, conserve groundwater

Go native: 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.

Reduce chemical use: Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly – don’t dump them on the ground!

Manage waste: Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites – contact your local health department to find one near you.

Don’t let it run: Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or shaving, and don’t let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead.

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.

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.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Reduce the amount of “stuff” you use and reuse what you can. Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum and other materials.

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.

Learn and do more: Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others.

To learn more about groundwater and National Groundwater Awareness Week, visit

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