Thursday, December 7, 2017

BLOG: Girl Scouts and Groundwater

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Several years ago, The Groundwater Foundation partnered with Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska to pilot a patch program to help Girl Scouts learn about water and find ways they can help protect it. The Let's Keep It Clean and Ask Me About Groundwater patches were born out of this partnership. Patch booklets are available for all levels of Girl Scouts - Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador - with fun, hands-on activities for girls to earn the patches.

The past several months have seen a great increase in orders through our online catalog for patches and accompanying patch booklets. It's been fun to see all the places where Girl Scouts are learning about groundwater - the water we drink and the water that grows our food! Materials have been ordered by troops in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Indiana, New York, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan the last quarter.

Get your Girl Scout involved in the Let's Keep It Clean program! Find resources, activity ideas, and more on our website at www.groundwater.org/kids/getinvolved/girlscouts/. If you need more ideas, give us a shout at girlscouts@groundwater.org or 402-434-2740.

My daughter's Daisy troop earned patches!
Brownie Girl Scouts build a well in a cup.

Daisy Girl Scouts learn about water through the story of Frannie the Fish.

Cadette Girl Scouts learned about water and then led activities with a Brownie troop.
  
Junior Girl Scouts see how groundwater moves through a simple groundwater model.

Friday, December 1, 2017

BLOG: A Focus on Water Quality

by Kylen Hunt, CropMetrics

My granddaughter's favorite book, (God Made You Special Little One) shows an image of a momma duck watching her baby in a bubble bath. The momma duck laughs and says, “No one has your silly laugh when you splash in bubble baths!”

A few weeks ago, our 2.5 year-old granddaughter received bubbles from Nana and Papa. As soon as she saw the bubbles forming around her, she splashed, laughed, and yelled as only a 2-year-old can, “Look Papa! I splash in bubble baths!!” I too laughed, and we had a great time as she splashed in her bubble bath. 

As a grandfather, those memories are priceless. As a leader in the irrigated Ag industry, I’m reminded to take the importance of clean water resources seriously. If our family didn’t have unlimited access to clean water, I wouldn’t have this memory. So I’ve asked myself, “Is there more I can be or should be doing to ensure my granddaughters, granddaughters, will have unlimited clean water?” I believe the answer is yes. There is more we can all do. But it won’t be easy, and it’ll take great leadership.

In irrigated agriculture water quantity occupies most conversations. The more we learn about water issues globally, I believe water quality should be our primary focus. Why? Because if we, as a society of citizens, focus on quality over quantity, many of the quantity issues take care of themselves. How is that possible? Well, follow along with me as I lead you through the why, how, and what process of achieving this goal.

Bottled water from OCWD's wastewater recycling system..
Why - Quality is important to everyone: Now sure, this is obvious, right? But do we look at our water quality responsibilities first or do we point to others faults being more of an issue than our own? In October, I had the opportunity to attend the Groundwater Foundation's National Conference in Boise ID. At the conference, I listened to Adam Hutchinson with the Orange County Water District in Fountain Valley CA explain what California is doing to capture, clean, and reuse natural rain and waste-water. I was humbled and reminded there are things that others, like myself, could be doing to ensure everyone has clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. I saw images of how they are slowing down the water in water channels (an amazing concept) to allow more water to recharge the groundwater. I learned how it’s only taking them 45 minutes to clean waste-water to drinking quality again. Unbelievable! The biggest takeaway for me? There is more I can be doing to ensure clean water sources in my own area of the world. I need to stop believing that others aren’t doing enough and do more myself.

How - “Water Quality Assessment (WQA)” is a concept everyone can engage in: It simply says that when a process requiring water is complete, (final) the quality of the water at the end should be the priority consideration in the process. Why? Because by default the ending water quality will become the beginning water quality for another operation. Will the current process improve, or hinder human, plant, or animal life? If it can have an adverse effect, can we change the first method to improve the second? Here’s an example from agriculture where I invest most of my time.

Farmers grow plants. Plants use water in the soil to pull nutrients and chemicals through the roots into the plant. The plants transpire (sweat) clean water back into the atmosphere through the leaves. The nutrients and chemicals are left in the plant to create and maintain plant health and reproductive potential. This is a natural process and is an example of highly efficient water use resulting in a high WQA. It’s simply natural and super effective.

However, any water (rain or mechanically applied) when over applied moves water, nutrients, and chemicals past the root zone where it is wasted forever. Not only is the water wasted, but the nutrients and chemicals are also wasted. This is an extremely low WQA. Also, in this case, applying or preparing plants to take in only the water they need, WQA becomes a very profitable process!

Well, this leaves a question. What must we as citizens improve to have higher WQA’s every time we use water? For starters, becoming more aware of the water we use and how we use it. Second, it's a matter of interdependency. Living and working together. Not seeing ourselves as more important than someone else. But seeing ourselves as equal citizens in a world where EVERYONE wants clean, fresh water.

I look forward to hearing from others who have ideas on assuring that all future generations enjoy the occasional BUBBLE BATH!
__________

Kylen Hunt is Chief Sales Officer for CropMetrics, a Precision Irrigation Solutions Company focused on Precision Irrigation Adoption. His background in Agriculture began as a teenager working with his family in Central Nebraska. He was taught to love the land and respect its natural resources. In seeing the profitable result through intense and precise irrigation management, Kylen became passionate about building sustainable precision water programs through the CropMetrics network. It's easy to be passionate about a conservation when it's profitable! Today, Kylen lives in Omaha Nebraska with his wife Rebecca, his biggest fan for twenty-four years. Through the study of truth based leadership, Kylen took this learned knowledge into the industry for the purpose of designing and growing profitable businesses built on purposed leadership. Today, in correlation with his role at CropMetrics, Kylen engages in events that equip leaders  to recognize and utilize their unique, untapped potential. Reach him at kylen@cropmetrics.com. www.cropmetrics.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {FIRST Lego League}

Frannie has received a lot of calls lately from all over country from boys and girls participating in this year’s FIRST Lego League Challenge.  Why?  We’ll get to that, but first: What is FIRST Lego League, or FLL?  

Photo Credit: Denise Krebs
From their website, FLL “is a program that supports children and youngsters in order to introduce them to science and technology in a sporty atmosphere.”  The competition is divided into two parts that tackle different disciplines of a unique theme: the robot game and the research project.  In the robot game, teams practice the scientific method and hone their engineering skills to solve a mission with the help of an autonomous robot. The research projects, on the other hand, is the students’ prerogative to address an issue within their community and develop a product or solution with the help of agencies and experts in the field.

So why are they calling Frannie? Because this year’s FLL theme is Hydro Dynamics!  Teams will learn all about how to “find, transport, use, or dispose” of water as well as what we can do to help ourselves and the earth once we know what is happening to it.

Hydrogeology Challenge
The Groundwater Foundation has a lot of basic information about what groundwater is, why it is important, and what threatens it that can be read online.  The 30by30 (Google Play Store and iTunes) and Water1der (iTunes) apps are useful tools to track your water usage and practice your water trivia, respectively. Ambitious teams who can comfortably perform algebra can use the Hydrogeology Challenge to understand flow mechanics under normal (static) and pumping conditions. 

While The Groundwater Foundation can’t work with every single team, Frannie hopes that this information will help most students begin to understand the basic concepts of groundwater and hydrodynamics. For information specific to your region, call your local Health and Human Services or Water Utilities departments.  If you are part of an FLL team and you come up with an idea to improve one of our existing activities, please let us know by emailing guardian@groundwater.org.
Good luck in this competition season!