Monday, April 20, 2015

Anniversary Story: "Mending Wellhead Protection Relationships" by Steve Kelley

“Mending Wellhead Protection Relationships”
By Steve Kelley, City of Beatrice, Nebraska Water Superintendent, Groundwater Guardian Team

The Beatrice Groundwater Guardian team was put together in 2006 to help protect the Beatrice water supply from increasing nitrates. The City of Beatrice had no zoning jurisdiction in our wellhead protection area and we needed to try and reduce the nitrates in our Old Wellfield and protect our second City Farm Wellfield.

The relationship with the farmers in the total of approximately 20 square miles of the wellhead protection areas was not good, which stemmed from a past farmer with no understanding that we all had to give and take to accomplish something. He did not have the patience to try and look at both sides before speaking and making decisions on water quality and quantity issues, which caused the water department to be the “bad guys” in many farmers’ eyes.

As Water Superintendent, I tried for several years to change our image without much success until we formed the Beatrice Groundwater Guardian Team. With the make-up of the team having a farmer, citizen, several Extension educators, NRCS, the local Natural Resource Districts, and myself we got our foot in the door of several of the farm operators. From here we were able to write three source water protection grants and got a cost share for farmers for irrigation scheduling equipment, irrigation well water meters, and soil moisture sensors. What a great way to mend this bad relationship!

We now provide an annual training on several subjects that address chemical use and irrigation practices. This is a well received training session, and in 2015 we had 32 people attend for this training, which is nearly two people for every square mile of our wellhead protection area! The farmers all appreciate the free meal we provide and most use the training in their farming practices to help provide a better income for their efforts.

From this farm operator training we expanded it to an annual urban training session. We have covered everything from chemical usage to lawn watering. We also touch on gardening practices for people to grow their own vegetables. This also has been well received by the urban residents. I have also received several comments from the farmers that they are glad we also are educating the urban people about some of the same issues.

From all this we have actually seen a slight decrease in nitrate levels in the Old Wellfield, and the City Farm Wellfield has not seen any increase in its nitrate levels. This is great for our system but best of all the relationship with the farmers is much better – they actually wave or speak to me when I run across them in the public. We also understand each other’s concerns much better.

All this has been possible because we started the Groundwater Guardian Team.

_________________________

26 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!


30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anniversary Story: "Our Groundwater Guardian Story" by Marge Cook

“Our Groundwater Guardian Story”
By Marge Cook, Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardians, CA

“Mission Springs Water District is doubly blessed with two aquifers – a cold water aquifer that provides the award-winning water for our community and a world-renowned hot mineral water aquifer that attracts visitors from around the world to our spas,” says Nancy Wright, Mission Springs Water District Board of Directors President, and founding member of the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardians.

It has been 20 years since Mission Springs Water District, as part of its “Groundwater Protection Plan,” first applied to become a Groundwater Guardian Community . . . and now the community has four Groundwater Guardian Teams.

Desert Hot Springs was first designated a Groundwater Guardian Community in 1995, followed by Mission Springs Water District (a Groundwater Guardian Affiliate) in 1997, Desert Hot Springs High School in 2000 as a Groundwater Guardian Campus, and Desert Springs Middle School as a Groundwater Guardian Campus in 2005.

As part of the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardian groundwater awareness education, the community has enjoyed many wonderful Groundwater Guardian moments during the last 20 years. To mention but just a few . . . Bubbling Wells Elementary School 5th Graders winning the 1st Palm Springs Unified School District’s DIGICOM (Annual Student and Teacher Film Festival) Award “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” conceived by their Mission Creek Preserve Field Trip visit; dedicating the Desert Hot Springs High School’s ceramic tile water-related wall at the High School and a ceramic tile water-related bench viewed by thousands of visitors annually at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum; and receiving four PSUSD “Shiny Apple” Awards for the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardian educational program.

Embraced by the community, the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardian Program has been an integral part of a continuing groundwater protection, preservation and conservation message, and Mission Springs Water District and the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardians salute The Groundwater Foundation on its 30th Anniversary Celebration.
_________________________

27 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!


30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association

Monday, April 6, 2015

Anniversary Story: "Fascination with Groundwater" by Marlene Rasmussen

"Fascination with Groundwater"
by Marlene Rasmussen, Retired Educator and Former Groundwater Foundation Board Member

I am 82 years old now and this is my story:

I’ve always been drawn to, and fascinated by groundwater. I learned more about it when I took a conservation class in college. As a child I didn’t know how clean water could be pumped up through the ground, which was dirt…

The conservation class opened my eyes to the how/when/where of water, and I wanted to share what I had learned with my students. We made a spring field trip each year and each time with a stop at the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska where we stayed until dusk finding the water table when we dug into the sand…taking a small digging tool was mandatory, as was being very quiet as the cranes began their evening return to the river. One year we saw an endangered whooping crane. The students were thrilled, and so was I!

So when I read about the founding of The Groundwater Foundation, I called Susan Seacrest and was one of the first to join. Prior to that I knew very little about what a foundation is and what it does. I came to Lincoln for a conference on groundwater issues, and was later asked to join the Board.

I retired from teaching many years ago, but I have lots of fond memories of those years in the classroom, and of my association with The Groundwater Foundation.


**Note: Marlene brought her 6th grade class to a Groundwater Foundation Symposium in 1988. Their curiosity and enthusiasm was the impetus for the creation of the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival in 1989, which was the first event of its kind and has been replicated across the U.S. and internationally.

_________________________

28 Weeks Until the 2015 Groundwater Foundation National Conference and 30th Anniversary Celebration!


30th Anniversary Story Teller Sponsor
Marshfield Utilities


30th Anniversary Story Teller Supporter
National Ground Water Association