Thursday, February 4, 2016

Beyond the Ordinary

by Lori Davison, The Groundwater Foundation
Can you imagine yourself working in a business community which lies 100 feet underground?  Your commute includes driving through a hole in the side of a hill with unbelievable scenery of walls, ceiling, pillars, and floor made of limestone.  Your office attire would be clothes suitable for a constant temperature of 68 degrees—no need for “winter” or “summer” clothes.  Everyone would be treated equal—no windows for anyone, just limestone and pillars for a view.  No--this isn’t from some sci-fi movie--it is an underground industrial park located in an excavated mine 100 feet below the surface of Kansas City, Missouri called SubTropolis.  It is the largest of eight underground business complexes in the area.  It includes 5 million square feet of leased warehouse and office space with a network of more than two miles of rail lines and 6 miles of roads.

In the 1960s, the Hunt Midwest company which owns SubTropolis began renting space that was created by the limestone mining in the area.  After the energy crisis hit in the 1970s, people came to appreciate the advantages of locating businesses underground. For example, the constant temperature underground leads to greatly reduced heating and air-conditioning demands—about 85 percent lower than for a building on the surface.  Subterranean development represents an innovative way to save energy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Also, these underground offices do not have roofs, external siding, flooring and support structures so therefore require fewer energy-intensive construction materials.  The environmental impact of SubTropolis is huge also.  For instance, surface land is preserved since trees and other natural plants do not need to be removed and wetlands need not be filled to make way for commerce or industry. 

Other underground business developments similar to SubTropolis are located in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  You never know what “lies below!”  This is just one example of people creating innovative ways to save energy and other resources.  What other ideas can you come up with to protect and conserve natural resources?  Remember, we need to think beyond the ordinary?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday or Friday Flashback: Where Do We Go From Here?

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

Throwback Thursday, Friday Flashbacks…. These seem to be all the rage on Facebook. 

So today I thought I would take you back in time, back to 1986.  It was in 1986 that The Groundwater Foundation decided to honor a Nebraskan who had lifelong achievements in groundwater protection.  The first recipient of this honor was Vincent Dreeszen, pictured here with Susan Seacrest, founder and first president of The Groundwater Foundation. 

1986 – 30 years ago!  Wow how times have changed!  Just take a look at the hunter green chairs, the hair, the clothes…  But some things never change, like the need for us to protect groundwater.  However, what potentially does change is what we need to protect groundwater from and how we protect it.  Think about it, the emerging contaminants like the microbeads in our personal care items, global climate change, and pharmaceutical contamination (while not necessarily new, definitely one we have just recently began to address).  And, of course, if what we are challenged with protecting groundwater from changes so must the ways in which we protect it. 

Much lies ahead of us in the world of groundwater protection. What is it that concerns you when it comes to protecting groundwater?  What should our next steps be?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Recognizing Groundwater Guardians

By Jessica Wheeler, The Groundwater Foundation

The Groundwater Guardian program has been a staple of The Groundwater Foundation since 1994 and represents a network of communities and organizations acting locally to educate people and protect and conserve groundwater.  The program offers many benefits:
  • The program provides communities of all types (cities, counties, watersheds, schools, etc.) a framework for local action, providing structure and support for long-term action.
  • Earning Groundwater Guardian status sets your community apart - it draws positive attention to efforts to ensure a viable water supply.
  • Guardians have access to a variety of resources to help with local efforts, including a wealth of online tools.
  • Communities are recognized nationally and locally by The Groundwater Foundation for their efforts to educate the public and protect groundwater.

I am thrilled to honor the 72 Groundwater Guardian Communities and Affiliates that protected the groundwater of over 18 million people and earned designation for 2015!  This group represents 24 states and a wide variety of activities and approaches to groundwater protection.  From hosting groundwater festivals to holding cleanups of local waterways to participating in household hazardous waste collection and all the activities in between, these Guardians are dedicated to protecting our most precious resource.

Groundwater Guardians and Groundwater Guardian Green Sites recognized at The Groundwater Foundation's 2015 National Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska on October 21, 2015.

I am so excited to see what is in store for our Guardians, both new and old, in 2016.  Learn more and become a Groundwater Guardian today!