Friday, December 12, 2014

A Call to Action

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

As a nation, we face a host of water quality and quantity challenges that are both pressing and ongoing. Persistent threats and challenges, and disastrous chemical spills highlight the importance of safe drinking water to public health and local economies. The public and private costs of inaction can be extensive. Together, we must consider lessons learned over the past decade and apply newly available resources to prioritize threats and protect drinking water sources, both surface and groundwater. Additional action by federal, state, and local partners can and must be taken to effectively protect drinking water sources.
As a member of the national Source Water Collaborative (SWC), The Groundwater Foundation shares the group's vision - all drinking water sources are adequately protected. As such, we are happy to share in its "Call to Action: A Recommitment to Assessing and Protecting Sources of Drinking Water."
This call to action stresses the fact that source water protection ultimately takes place at the local level and, those on the front lines of drinking water protection – drinking water utilities and local governments, supported by state, federal, and community-sponsored programs – have unique opportunities to defend drinking water. Federal agencies can provide tools and data, and leverage programs and authorities to protect drinking water sources. Other source water partners, including SWC members and their constituents, also play vital roles. All SWC members and other stakeholders can seize opportunities to establish, participate in or support state and local collaboratives to protect drinking water sources. Defending drinking water is truly a shared responsibility among all concerned stakeholders!
How can YOU take action to protect our nation's source waters?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Climate Change

by Jane Griffin, The Groundwater Foundation

Thank goodness we can finally stop debating if climate change is due to human action and get to the important topic: what we need to do about it.

Recently, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln issued a report titled Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska.  While the report is focused on implications for Nebraska it is clear that all regions of the world will be impacted, whether with similar or differing results of climate change.

Take a look at the report: it’s available here:

Since it is almost time to make those New Year resolutions – why not include some adaptations to your behavior that will help to reverse the path we are headed.  We always are cheering for many happy returns – why don’t we ensure our earth has the same?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Making Groundwater Education Go Viral

#GivingTuesday is one week away! Help us make groundwater education go viral by sharing the graphic below on your favorite social media.

And don't forget to share an educational fact with your post.
Here are some ideas:
  • Reduce the need for excessive watering and chemical use by planting native plants in your yard
  • Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances
  • Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or shave
  • Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away
  • Limit yourself to just a five minute shower and challenge your family members to do the same
  • Make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washer
  • Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it
  • Reduce the amount of "stuff" you use and reuse what you can
  • Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible

Remember, all funds raised on December 2nd will go toward our youth education programs! Together we can keep it clean!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Thanks...

by Lori Davison, The Groundwater Foundation

As we are fast approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, what comes to mind are the usual things we associate the holiday with -- family, giving thanks, comfort food, parades, and of course football!

At our house, Thanksgiving Day mainly revolves around preparing the meal—sometimes it’s fun to try new recipes, but most of us continue to fix the simple, traditional Thanksgiving dishes. This also is true in the world of groundwater protection. The recipe for groundwater protection consists of very simple, but very important ingredients. Here are some of the main ingredients for conserving and protecting groundwater:
  • Conserve water throughout your home. Limit showers to five minutes or less, shut off thewater while brushing your teeth, run only full loads of dishes or laundry, fix leaky faucets.
  • Properly dispose of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other hazardous substances. Take chemicals and other hazardous substances to a household hazardous waste event or collection center, find a local pharmacy or drug take back event to dispose of pharmaceuticals, or check with your local health or water department for guidelines.
  • Get your workplace, school, neighborhood association, or other organization involved in educating people and protecting groundwater.

The staff at the Groundwater Foundation would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and share some of the things that they are thankful for:
  • the health and wellbeing of my family and friends
  • wonderful family, our home, and health
  • amazing people I get to work with
  • new office space and being able to help make a difference and protect water
  • ability to turn the tap on and not worry about the safety of the water
  • our supporters and partners over the past 30 years!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Drop or Two Can Add Up to be a Problem

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

For years we at The Groundwater Foundation have been saying it’s all about the collective effort when we talk about the changes each of us can make to help protect groundwater.  Well now a recent article based on research ( from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of  Public Health is noting that it may be the small pollutants from each of us, that when added together, create an issue of great concern. 

Yes, that drop or two of gasoline that dribbles to the pavement when you fill your car with gas can add up to be a lot of gasoline when added to the drops from each person who fills their car.  According to the study, over the course of a decade roughly 1,500 liters of gas are spilled at the typical gas station.  While it takes time for the dribbles to add up what we need to remember is that these dribbles are either being washed away quite possibly to the nearest waterway or they are soaking into the ground and potentially reaching groundwater. 

This is just one example of where each of our little pieces of the pie – whether it be the drops of gasoline we inadvertently let fall to the ground or the extra five minutes we spend in the shower – they add up and can be a problem.  We all have a responsibility to protect our water resources.  And just as our indulgences add up to cause the problem, our little acts of protection will also add up to help protect the water we all rely on for life. 

What will you do today to make a difference?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Join Us for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival November 12th!

It's back! On Wednesday, November 12, Threads-Footloose & Fancy will be hosting a night of inspirational environmental films at the Marcus Lincoln Grand Cinema in Lincoln, NE to benefit The Groundwater Foundation.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival will start at 7pm followed by a raffle. Tickets are $15 and are available at Threads-Footloose & Fancy located at 1219 P St. and 4131 Pioneers Woods Dr. in Lincoln. Your ticket gets you into the film festival, gets you a soft drink and popcorn, and puts your name in for a chance to win some great prizes from our sponsors Clif, Patagonia, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Mother Jones, Klean Kanteen, and Orion Magazine. Feel free to share this invitation with family and friends - we'd love to see you there. All ages are welcome to this event!

If you are unable to attend, don't worry! You can still contribute by clicking here and making a donation.

We hope you can all join us for what promises to be an incredible evening!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Make a Difference This Holiday Season

It's that time of year again - the weather is changing, snow has already begun to fall in certain areas of the country, and holiday music can be heard while shopping at any major convenience store.

At The Groundwater Foundation, we are busy gearing up for what will likely be one of our biggest years to date. In 2015, we will celebrate 30 years of groundwater education and protection by not only taking a look at all we have accomplished in the past 30 years, but also by looking to the future and next 30 years. Even with all we have accomplished thus far, this is only the beginning - there is so much more work to be done.

This is where we need you.

#GivingTuesday is a day set aside to give back. It follows the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it reminds us all what the holiday season is really about. Last year, we campaigned to raise funds for a new youth program - Groundwater Restoration through Education. With your help, we were able to make a difference. Check out some statistics from last year's campaign:

  • $1,075 Raised on December 3, 2013
  • 212 Students Reached
  • 10 Teachers Trained
  • 5 Title I Schools Changed Forever

Help us continue to make a difference in the year to come by once again supporting youth groundwater education on #GivingTuesday. Here is how you can get involved:

1. Donate on December 2nd

2. Spread the Word on Social Media

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and tell your friends, family, and coworkers about #GivingTuesday. We'll be posting stories and photos about our projects and programs leading up to December 2nd, so check back regularly for new updates!

3. Get Informed and Take Action

Groundwater is a vital resource, and everyone benefits from a sustainable supply of clean groundwater. Learn the facts about how you can conserve water in your own life and share them with others!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Passion + Action = Protection

By Steve Mossman

As I wrap up my second year of service on the Groundwater Foundation Board of Directors, I wanted to provide some updates on the positive mission of the Foundation.
We just returned from a Board meeting in Las Vegas and, more importantly, the Community-based Groundwater Protection Forum put on by the Foundation the following day.  The passion of the Forum attendees to protect our most precious resource was contagious.  Along with the passion, the Groundwater Foundation’s collaborative approach to protecting groundwater at the source left all attendees returning to their communities with concrete “deliverables” to act upon. 


Passion + Action = Protection

These qualities were also on display as the Groundwater Foundation honored long-time volunteer Bob Kuzelka with its highest honor, the annual Maurice Kremer Groundwater Achievement Award.  Along with his many years of academic and community involvement in water issues, Bob was the leading force in the design, development, and implementation of the Foundation’s Groundwater Guardian program.  It was so fitting to honor Bob at the Forum lunch and a hearty congratulations is due.
My final take away from Las Vegas involves a taxi ride.  My driver was a 20 year Las Vegas resident.  As a member of the building trade, he was hit hard by the 2008 recession. But, he recently had the ability to purchase  a new home and was so proud to tell me about his involvement in a program sponsored by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (our great host in Las Vegas) to convert his turf into desert landscaping.  The Authority’s Water Smart Landscape Rebate program is exactly the kind of program that needs to spread. 

Like my taxi driver and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, let’s all work together on the important mission of the Groundwater Foundation. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

A Matter of Trust

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Program Manager
In the fall issue of The Aquifer, Groundwater Foundation President Emeritus Susan Seacrest reflected on the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Act, which was signed into law in 1974, ensures the drinking water delivered to consumers by public water systems meets high standards to protect human health.
In her article, Susan talks about how drinking an ordinary glass of water represents a moment of great trust between citizens and their government; the trust that the water is safe.
While this trust is reinforced by legislation such as the SDWA, there is another layer of trust that may literally be eroding. Report after report suggest that the nation's water infrastructure is nearing the end of its life. From pipes to treatment technology, the world is changing and infrastructure needs to change along with it. A recent article from Circle of Blue discusses the issue:
“Water reserves are diminishing in the West. Rainstorms are growing more intense as the planet warms. Waterways that once were nearly scrubbed of pollutants are becoming overloaded with nutrients. These and other indicators – Depression-era distribution pipes and a deluge of new pharmaceutical and chemical contaminants – are evidence that the water-cleaning and water-moving systems that were designed and installed to contend with different conditions generations ago are nearing the end of their design lives. American infrastructure needs to be updated, expanded, redesigned, and, in many cases, reinvented for 21st-century challenges."

Cost, of course, is the main factor in lagging infrastructure improvements. AWWA reports that it could cost near $1 trillion. And unlike the 1970s, when the SDWA was enacted and the federal government helped fund the lion's share of capital investment in water and wastewater infrastructure, the burden now lies with state and local agencies.
While the trust we place in our government to ensure the water we drink is safe is justified, it's important that we at citizens support efforts to improve the nation's water infrastructure, which enables the safe water to be delivered to our taps.
What do you think needs to be done to address the issue of aging infrastructure? Whose responsibility is it to foot the bill for the improvements?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October is Shower Better Month!

By Amy Kessner, The Groundwater Foundation

October is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) WaterSense program's Shower Better month. Showering accounts for nearly 17% of residential indoor water use - that's about 40 gallons a day for the average family! Converting inefficient showerheads to WaterSense showerheads can help save the average family 2,900 gallons of water each year, conserve enough energy to power a home for 13 days, and reduce the average family water and energy costs by $70 per year! That's a lot of water waiting to be conserved!

In celebration of Shower Better month, some areas around the country are giving away FREE WaterSense showerheads! Make sure to check with your local water conservation office to see if your area is participating.

Replacing your showerhead is not the only way to save water and cut back on your energy bill while showering! Check out these other tips for saving water while showering:

  • Limit your shower time to 5 minutes
  • Don't let the water run while waiting to warm up OR collect the water in a bucket while it is warming up and use it later to water plants
  • Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth in the shower

Thursday, October 2, 2014

How Old Is the Water on Our Planet

by Lori Davison, The Groundwater Foundation
Yesterday, when it was pouring rain (inches & inches of rain) I began to wonder:  how old is this water?  Where has it been before?   This thought process was all prompted by an article I’d seen in the Washington Post saying earth’s water could be older than the sun.  To read the article:
The research can be found at:


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Community-based Groundwater Protection: A Formula for Success

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater overdraft - what's happening in California and how the new legislation will impact it.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products - impacts to groundwater.

Nitrate management - best practices to protect groundwater.

Fracking – the impacts, challenges, and potential protective actions.

Where can you discuss issues like these with like-minded people? 

At the "Community-based Groundwater Protection Forum" on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  People from all across the country will share their community-based groundwater protection experiences in the morning sessions. After lunch we will offer all attendees an opportunity to be a part of the dialogue, sharing lessons learned, challenges they face, ways to sustain their efforts, and get tools to organize their community to protect groundwater.

Be sure to register today for this educational event co-sponsored by The Groundwater Foundation and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.  For more information or to register go to:

And, by the way, if you are headed out to the Water Smart Innovations conference, this forum is being held the day prior so plan to come a day early and learn about community-based action!

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

  • Marshfield Utilities
  • Mission Springs Water District
  • National Ground Water Association
  • Nelson Irrigation Corporation
  • Orange County Water District
  • Lee and Rita Orton
  • Senninger Irrigation, Inc.
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority

Friday, September 19, 2014

California Drought Brings State's First Large Scale Groundwater Management Regulations

By Heather Voorman, The Groundwater Foundation

You may have noticed several posts on our facebook page recently addressing the California drought. The state has been pumping groundwater at record rates to counter the drought, causing depleting aquifer supplies. A recent study from Stanford University reported that approximately 60 percent of California's water needs are being supplied by groundwater. That's a 20% increase from previous years when normal amounts of precipitation fell. 

Pictured is a California lettuce field being irrigated. California grows up to half of the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables.

The California government recently responded to the state's groundwater issues by passing several bills that will regulate California's groundwater resources on a large scale. Prior to this legislation, landowners were able to pump as much groundwater as they wanted. Now local agencies will create management plans and the state government will be able to intervene if these local groups do not sufficiently manage groundwater supplies.  

The recent events in California are just another reminder of how important groundwater supplies are. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to protect groundwater supplies in your community, here are a couple of ways:
  • Join us at the October 7th Forum: Community-based Groundwater Protection: A Formula for Success.  To learn more about this great opportunity click here. 
  • Learn more about the Groundwater Guardian program that provides support and encouragement for communities of all types (cities, counties, watersheds, schools, and other community groups) to begin groundwater awareness activities, motivation to continue these efforts, and recognition for their achievements. It's a great way to protect groundwater supplies for your community! Click here for more information.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Have You Seen Groundwater?

by Ann Bleed, Groundwater Foundation Board Member

Groundwater is one of the most difficult natural resources to manage because it is so hard to see and observe. In fact, most people never see groundwater, although some can say they have seen it, at least momentarily, as it is transformed to surface water at a groundwater spring or artesian well. Some may have felt it as a sudden area of cold water caused by a groundwater spring flowing into a river or lake.

Even scientists have trouble observing and understanding groundwater. In most cases the best a groundwater scientist can do is build a groundwater model to try to describe how an aquifer works. Because groundwater flow varies depending in part on the type of subsurface materials through which it flows, the first step toward understanding how groundwater moves is to map the horizontal area and vertical depth of the subsurface layers of gravel, sand, silts, and clays in the aquifer.

Until recently, scientists have had to rely on drilling test holes and describing the various subsurface layers in each hole, a very costly and laborious process. Because of the cost, test holes are usually far apart, leaving the task of determining what the aquifer is like between test holes to a geologist who makes the best guess possible of what might be going on between the test holes.

Today, however, there is a new technique that makes exploring an aquifer more precise and less costly. Airborne electromagnetic or AEM surveying, uses a sophisticated sensor towed by a helicopter to identify and evaluate the geology within an aquifer. To the unknowing citizen the sensor may look like a bomb, so before the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District in Nebraska used AEM to survey one of its aquifers, the District made sure it issued press releases to tell the public what was going on.

This technique is fascinating to watch and already has provided a great deal of valuable information all over the world. And, thanks to the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications network and QUEST, a joint-venture science program affiliated with PBS, you can watch a seven-minute video of how this system works at

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Unique Drinking Water Situation

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The Groundwater Foundation's hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska is home to a unique drinking water situation.
The City draws groundwater from 40 vertical wells, which are commonly used to supply drinking water. However, two additional wells, constructed horizontally underneath the Platte River, produce great amounts of water, which is then treated and piped from nearby Ashland, Nebraska. This is considered groundwater under the direct influence of surface water.
Why so far away? The water under the City of Lincoln is too salty for drinking. In fact, the first city-owned well for drinking water was drilled in 1875 and found to be salty; the artesian well became famous for its "curative powers, and people traveled from miles around to fill buckets and jars." Additional wells were dug throughout the city, but abandoned when the water became salty.
Recent drought led the City to install a third horizontal collector well to meet demand for Lincoln's increasing population. The new well became operational in July, and according to the Lincoln Journal Star, is one of the 10 largest of its kind in the nation. It has the capacity to produce 20 million gallons of water per day under normal river conditions.
Members of the NeWHPN tour the City of Lincoln's
horizontal collector wells.
The Journal Start also describes the well: "The horizontal well consist of a concrete silo 16 feet in diameter sunk about 70 feet into the ground to access the most productive layer in the aquifer. From the silo, well screens are projected horizontally below the river. its construction allows the well to provide at least 10 million gallons per day during extended drought conditions with low river flows."
A fourth horizontal well is on the horizon as well, being planned for completion in 2018.
The Nebraska Wellhead Protection Network (NeWHPN), facilitated by The Groundwater Foundation, took a tour of the collector wells as part of its meeting on September 4, 2014.

Is your community water system unique? If you don't know, ask! Every water customer has the right to be informed about a community's drinking water supply, and its quality. Ask for a copy of the latest Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to learn more about your drinking water. Find out more about the CCR here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gear Up for Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 9th!

Protect Your Groundwater Day is only three weeks away! Started by the National Ground Water Association, Protect Your Groundwater Day is the perfect time for every household to act to protect this precious resource.  The Protect Your Groundwater web page provides ways citizens can protect groundwater from overuse or contamination. Here are a few more suggestions for ways you can protect groundwater every day of the year:


When it comes to hazardous household substances:
  • Store them properly in a secure place
  • Use them according to the manufacturer's recommendations
  • Dispose of them safely (if in doubt as to how, contact your local waste authority)
When it comes to water conservation:


If you own a water well

To learn more about groundwater protection, visit or