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: