Thursday, February 22, 2018

BLOG: Flooding, Groundwater Contamination, and Your Family’s Safety

by Sally Phillips, freelance writer

All 50 states in the U.S. have experienced some level of flooding in recent years. It is the #1 natural disaster in the country, and from 2005 to 2014, flood insurance claims amounted to an average of $3.5 billion annually.  

But it’s not all about flood claims and fixing structures that were damaged by such a disaster. A less visible threat is water contamination after a major flood. Groundwater contamination is a big concernas 50% of the country’s population get their drinking water from groundwater resources. It is also the country’s primary irrigation source.

How can flooding threaten groundwater?
In the event of a flood, contaminants from septic tanks, farms, storage tanks, uncontrolled hazardous waste, and landfills can flow into floodwaters. As the water subsides, these contaminants can enter groundwater. Water contamination following a flood can lead to serious waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and the like, affecting both public water systems and those relying on private wells for drinking water.

Contaminants from uncontrolled hazardous waste alone is a scary prospect. There are thought to be over 20,000 abandoned and uncontrolled sites in the United States today and if these areas are flooded, contaminants will find their way to the water source.

Living in a Flood Prone Area
If you live in a flood prone area, it is important to check your homeowners insurance for flood coverage, since many homeowners plans don't include flood damage. An average insurance claim of $42,000 are filed by American families after every flood. This is a huge expense for most families, which is why ensuring that you have flood coverage is very important. As experts say, it is better to have it and not need it than not to have it and need it.

Preparing for a Flood
Considering climate change and the natural disasters it has brought in the past decade, it is vital to be prepared for flash floods or flooding. Families can prepare for this type of natural disaster by assembling emergency kits and having basic items ready. Having crates for your pets is also a must. It is also advised that you prepare bug-out bags for your four-legged family members too. Preparing an escape plan is just as important. Knowing the routes to find higher ground is a great idea. Experts note that you should know these routes by heart so that you can keep your whole family safe. Making advance arrangements for a place to stay is also a good idea.

Apart from being prepared, one of the most important things to remember after a flood is to be careful of the water you drink. It is best to have bottled water on hand so you don’t have to drink water from the tap until supplies are safe after a flood event, helping protect you and your family from diseases brought about by possible water contamination.


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Sally Phillips is a freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible. Reach her at sally@diamondmail.net.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the view of The Groundwater Foundation, its board of directors, or individual members.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Annual Drinking Water Quality Report}

This is Part 4 in Frannie's exploration of Wellhead Protection.   Read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 and look for more blogs to learn more about what it is, who protects the wellheads, and why it's important.
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What is the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report?
The Annual Drinking Water Quality Report, also called the Annual Consumer Confidence Report, prepared by your local water system, is designed to provide consumers with information about the quality of the water delivered by their public water system.  The report includes information about the system itself, but also information on the source of the drinking water, contaminants in the raw and finished water, and any violations or exemptions that the water system is operating under. 
If you live in a community of greater than 100,000 people, you might be able to find your Annual Water Quality Report online, otherwise you can pick up a copy from your local health department or public water supplier.

Why is the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report Important?
Consumer awareness and education is the first line of defense in protecting wellfields and the groundwater below them.  The Annual Water Quality Report explains the process that delivers clean, safe water to our bathtubs, sinks, and garden hoses and alerts customers when they might need to take steps to prevent pollution and overuse of their water source.  

What Can You Do with the Information in the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report?
Beyond taking the preventative steps listed in the report to keep your water clean, you can also share the information with decision makers in your state and local governments, schools and school districts, and your friends and family. It’s important for you to take action and even more important for you to share with others how they can do the same. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

BLOG: A Winter Olympics Without Water

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation
I don't know about you, but I love the Olympics. My family has been totally into it for the past week, tuning in to sports I know nothing about but am captivated by nonetheless. These athletes make death-defying sports look easy

Last night we were watching figure skating and something struck me - every single event in the Winter Olympics relies on water. Water for the snow, water for the ice. There's no skiing without snow, there's no speed skating without ice. There's no Winter Olympics without water.

No water means no ice, and no ice means no curling,
which is perhaps my new favorite obscure sport to watch.
Water is an integral part of many recreational activities - boating, swimming, skiing. And groundwater helps feed surface water supplies for many of these (including one of my favorites - canoeing down the scenic Niobrara River in North Central Nebraska).

So as you tune into the Olympics over the next several days, think about the amazingness that is water. It freezes so a figure skater can glide gracefully over ice. It becomes snow and a snowboarder performs gravity-defying twists. Water for recreation brings enjoyment to all of our lives, even if we can only imagine competing in the Olympics.