Friday, August 9, 2019

BLOG: Groundwater Foundation Awards Scholarships to Five Students

The Groundwater Foundation has awarded scholarships to five students through the Len Assante Scholarship fund.

Len Assante Scholarships are awarded to full-time students enrolled in groundwater-related fields at a post-secondary institution such as a vocational school, community college, independent college, or university. An independent panel chooses the winners from a pool of scholarship applicants. Since its inception, the Len Assante Scholarship Fund has provided scholarships to 120 students pursing groundwater-related studies.

The 2019 Len Assante Scholarship award winners are:
  • Tyler Kleinsasser, Past President’s Award, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
  • Sheila Solis-Arroyo, Ora Lyons Award, University of Arizona
  • Wynne Casteel III, Rich Haderer Award, Baylor University
  • John Krone, University of Southern California
  • William Brewer, Baylor University

“The groundwater industry will need contractors, scientists, engineers, manufacturers, and suppliers into the future,” said Terry Morse, CIC, CAE, National Ground Water Association CEO. “The Groundwater Foundation’s scholarships help ensure our industry remains strong with a robust workforce.”

For more information about the Len Assante Scholarship Fund, visit our website.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 8 - Runoff}

This is the eighth part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwaterdischargesurface waterevaporationcondensation, and precipitation.

Welcome back to Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle! The green bead on the water cycle bracelet represents runoff. When rain falls, snow melts, or when Frannie’s friend accidentally leaves the hose running in the garden (oh no!), the water that flows over the land and into the sewers, rivers, and lakes is called runoff.
A watershed is an area of land that surrounds a basin of water, such as a river or lake, that collects the runoff. Watersheds can be as small as the little neighborhood that surrounds and drains water into Frannie’s pond or huge, like the Mississippi River Watershed that drains water from 31 U.S. states and two provinces in Canada.

Runoff often picks up pollutants as it flows over the land. Not only can this affect the ecology in the area, but it can also have serious effects on local surface water and, eventually, the reservoir or ocean where it ends up.

Sometimes, precipitation doesn’t make it all the way down to earth. For example, when it rains in a Frannie’s neighborhood, the rain can be intercepted, meaning it lands on the buildings, sidewalks, streets instead of the grass or garden. The water that flows down the side of the street eventually runs into storm drains, which transport the water to a drainage area. Some water may even seep into the ground in a process called recharge!

Join us next time as Frannie explores recharge, the final stop on her water cycle journey.

Friday, July 26, 2019

BLOG: One Person Doesn't Leave a Legacy

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater Guardian teams are often the result of the interest of a community’s sparkplug - someone who is passionate, committed, and capable. That’s certainly been the case in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, which was first designated as aGroundwater Guardian in 1998 under the leadership of Lisa Corbitt.

Lisa was first introduced to the Groundwater Guardian program at a conference in Chicago in the fall of 1997. Hearing different Groundwater Guardian teams talk about what they were doing in their communities - water festivals, educational outreach, establishing regulatory requirements - inspired Lisa to get a team going in Mecklenburg County.

Mecklenburg County is an urban county home to over one million people. The County encompasses 546 square miles and includes the City of Charlotte as the county seat. Most people in the county get their drinking water through Charlotte’s municipal water source, Mountain Island Lake, a surface water source. Approximately 15% of the population relies on groundwater for drinking water, industrial water, or irrigation from an unconfined bedrock aquifer.

Lisa’s background as a Licensed Geologist and 31 years of working on groundwater issues in Mecklenburg County as a Hydrogeologist and Program Manager gives her a unique perspective on the County’s water resources. Though groundwater provides a small portion of the city’s water source, protecting it and raising awareness has long been a goal of the Lisa and her team. Over 1,800 groundwater contamination sites can be found in the county, ranging from a leaking home heating oil tank to a Superfund site.

The County’s programs and approaches have changed dramatically over the last 20 years. “In the beginning we were in the towns and schools educating high school students to teach elementary school students about the groundwater system through Aquifer Clubs, and annually we would have a Water Festival,” she says, which were great ways to reach students.

Then in 2005, the Mecklenburg County Groundwater Well Regulations were adopted. About the same time, the Learn and Serve Grant the team had been relying on stopped funding the type of educational programs they were offering, and the school system began implementing new restrictions on student involvement.

As a result, the team combined with other local efforts and shifted its focus to new water supply wells, identifying and sampling wells near contamination sites, and educating Water Well Contractors as well as Realtors. Team members are still able to participate in youth education efforts, such as classroom presentations, Science Olympiad, and Envirothon.

Before Lisa retired in December 2018, she laid the foundation for the efforts of the Groundwater Guardian team she’s led for over two decades to continue.

“Mecklenburg County’s GroundwaterAdvisory Board was established in 2005 as a requirement of the Groundwater Well Regulations,” she explains. “As long as the regulations are in effect there will be a citizen advisory board,” which is part of the Groundwater Guardian team. Staff members from Mecklenburg County Groundwater & Wastewater have taken leadership roles in education outreach as part of the Groundwater Guardian team’s efforts.

As for her personal legacy? Lisa is humble: “One person does not leave a legacy. Each success we’ve accomplished is because we have had a great team working together.”

Over 30 years ago, she was hired to establish a groundwater program. The program has gone from zero to:

  • Groundwater Well Regulations for permitting, repairing and abandoning water supply wells
  • Requirements for areas of regulated groundwater usage 
  • Groundwater Contamination Database 
  • A program that identifies and samples wells within 1500 feet of a known contamination site (Mecklenburg County Priority List) 
  • A public portal for well and groundwater contamination information (Well Information System) 
  • A public portal for permitting and abandoning monitoring wells (MAPS) 
  • Combined Groundwater Program with the Onsite Wastewater Program to address an entire piece of property with groundwater in mind. 
Groundwater Guardian has been a memorable part of Lisa’s career. And the best part of it? “The building of collaborative relationships and friendships with people across the United States that care about protecting the groundwater resource,” she says. “We openly share ideas and information. We learn from each other on what works well and what does not work well. We encourage each other to use our ideas. When one community is successful we are all successful.”

“It’s been rewarding to help individuals that have found out their well is contaminated and don’t know what to do next. I’ve had the opportunity to work beside them in making sure that they have a safe drinking water source,” she says.

After all, groundwater is the water we drink. And we thank Lisa for being an active partner through Groundwater Guardian and working to protect it for over 30 years.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 7 - Precipitation}

This is the seventh part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwaterdischargesurface waterevaporation, and condensation.
Welcome back to Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle! The yellow bead on Frannie’s water cycle bracelet represents precipitation. Even though it’s a big word, we are all very familiar with many different kinds of precipitation like rain, hail, sleet, and snow!

Precipitation is water that falls from the sky. The tiny water droplets are big enough to form visible clouds but not yet big enough to fall. Precipitation happens when millions of cloud droplets collide together to form a single raindrop or through another process where ice crystals are rapidly formed into snow or hail.
One quick clarification, though: fog and mist are not types of precipitation. They are actually suspensions, which means that the water vapor has not condensed enough to precipitate.

Precipitation is not the only way water can move from the sky to the ground. Back when Frannie was investigating evaporation, she touched on the concept of sublimation, where solid forms of water can become vapor without ever entering the liquid phase.

Deposition, or desublimation, is the opposite of that. In sub-freezing air, water vapor can turn directly into ice. It’s very possible you’ve already seen this process in action. On very cold winter days, water vapor goes through process of deposition to become the frost, also known as hoarfrost, that you can see coating plant stems, spiderwebs, and wires.
Join Frannie next time as she finds out where all that water goes once its back on the ground!