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 If you need more ideas, give us a shout at 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

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
Good luck in this competition season!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BLOG: We're Thankful

 by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Ah, Thanksgiving. Perhaps my favorite holiday, because it centers around family, food, and togetherness, and involves much less stress than already-in-stores Christmas. While I try to be grateful every day for my life's blessings, I like that Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect on the good that is in the world. 

As is many family's customs, I like to ask my family what they're thankful for. My darling six year old rattled off a long list: Mom and Dad, her sister, our house, her best friend, her teacher, and her toys. My three year old's answer was much more concise: Everything!

As a nonprofit, The Groundwater Foundation is in a constant state of thankfulness - we're fortunate to have amazing partners, supporters, members, and constituents that share our passion and drive to protect and conserve groundwater. If you've been following us on Twitter and Facebook this month, every Thursday we've shared a few things we're thankful for. And with that in mind, I challenged my fellow Groundwater Foundation staff members to reflect on what they're thankful for:

Jane Griffin, President
The list of things to be thankful for goes on and on - and the common denominator in that list is the people. Caring, passionate, driven and determined people working to protect and conserve groundwater!  This year we were able to gather many of those people together in Boise to share and further inspire the work to continue.  I was truly inspired by and thankful for the people that make all of this happen. For those of you who were not able to join us know that we appreciate and are thankful for all you are doing in your community!

Sara Brock, Program Manager
I am thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of The Groundwater Foundation for the past year as a program manager. I have met many excellent people in the state government, in local utility departments, in schools, and even in summer camp who are pursuing a better understanding of groundwater and the issues facing it. Traveling across Nebraska, I've spoken to water operators, who are using innovative methods to treat groundwater, and STEM educators, who are integrating groundwater science with engineering, business, and other disciplines. In my experience with the Groundwater Guardian program, I've also been fortunate to talk to operators, educators, and decision makers across the US and learn about groundwater issues facing different regions as well as community response. I look forward to continuing working with The Groundwater Foundation to grow my understanding of what a community needs to keep its groundwater and residents healthy and safe.

As for me, I echo my colleagues' words. The absolute best part of my job is the people I've had the privilege of working with for nearly 18 years. I'm thankful that a shared passion for  groundwater brought me to them, many of whom I consider friends. I'm thankful that so many people are working to protect this resource, and that we can all be part of the solution for clean, sustainable groundwater.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at The Groundwater Foundation!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Fish-water for Fertilizer}

Whenever Frannie travels, like a few weeks ago for the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference, she makes sure follows her packing list very carefully.

Toothbrush: check.
Camera: check.
Fish tank and cleaner: check.

Frannie loves having clean water and a clean fish tank in her home, but she used to feel bad about wasting so much water. She then learned that she could use her dirty water to fertilize plants and gardens. Here’s how.

The water in the aquarium are rich in elements like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus and a compounds like ammonia from the fish food and excretions. If you look at the ingredients in plant fertilizers, you’ll see that they have those exact same elements.  If you regularly clean your fish tank, then that water dilutes those chemicals to appropriate dosages for your garden or house plants to handle.  In some cases, gardens that have been fertilized with aquarium water grown twice as large as those without!

Be careful, though, because you can’t always just pour dirty fish water on your plants.  For example, if you aren’t like Frannie and haven’t cleaned your tank in a very long time, you will need to add fresh water to the dirty water in order to dilute the chemicals a little more.  If you have treated your tank to adjust for pH or kill algae, you should not water any plants that you intend to eat.  Also, using water from a salt-water aquarium is more likely to hurt or kill your plants than it is to help them grow, especially if they are potted plants.

What other cool ways can you save water at home?  Share them with us at or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Friday, November 10, 2017

BLOG: 5 Ways to Save Water in Your Home

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day. For comparison's sake, the average person in the Netherlands uses only 27 gallons per day, and the average person in the African nation of Gambia uses only 1.17 gallons per day.

So how can we use less?

1. Take Shorter Showers
A quick shower uses 20-30 fewer gallons of water than a bath. Challenge yourself to take just showers of just 5 minutes or less, then challenge your family members to do the same. Use a shower timer to help keep the time down. 

2. Check the Plumbing
Proper maintenance is one of the most effective water savers. Faucet washers are inexpensive and take only a few minutes to replace. At home, check all water taps, hoses, and hose connections (even those that connect to dishwashers and washing machines) for leaks.

3. Don’t Let It Run
It’s simple really, before you turn on the tap, think of ways you can use less water to accomplish the same purpose. Always shut off the water when you brush your teeth, fill the sink when shaving instead of letting the water run, keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running it til it gets cold.

4. Drip No More!
There is no such thing as a little drip. A leaky faucet can waste 10 gallons of water every day. On a toilet, an average leak can add up to 60 gallons per day! Replace worn sink washers or valve seals to get rid of the drip, and check for leaks in a toilet's tank or replace old toilets with low-flush units.

5. Fill It Up
Only run full loads in the dish and clothes washers. Get the most clean for the least amount of water!

For more ways to conserve water, download the free 30by30 water tracking app. Challenge yourself to reduce your water use, and tell us how you did.

Friday, November 3, 2017

BLOG: National Conference Highlights

Boise was amazing! We enjoyed the beautiful weather, vibrant downtown, informative and inspiring presentations, a ton of networking, and a chance to spend time with our groundwater family. Here are some of the highlights:
The Idaho state capitol, just a few blocks from the conference hotel.

River artwork on the outside of The Grove Hotel in downtown Boise.

Tuesday morning was bright and beautiful.

A group enjoyed an informative tour about the redevelopment and groundwater contamination concerns at one of Boise's Greenbelt parks.

The conference kicked off with a reception at the Boise WaterShed Environmental Education Center.

Members of The Groundwater Foundation's Board of Directors enjoyed the interactive artwork at the WaterShed Center.

The WaterShed Center features great interactive, hands-on exhibits about Boise's water.

Pat Mulroy's plenary address about groundwater in a climate-changed world started Wednesday's sessions.

Wednesday's program included numerous informative breakouts on technology, research, education, conservation, and groundwater management.

Groundwater Guardians traveled the room at lunch and shared their community's groundwater story.

Connections were made during multiple networking breaks.

Bill and Rosemarie Alley shared lessons learned about groundwater management from their book, High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World's Growing Dependence on Groundwater.

We had the opportunity to sample water from Orange County Water District's Groundwater Replenishment System. And guess what - it tasted like water!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference}

She's back!  Frannie the Fish spent most of last week in the lovely mountain city of Boise, Idaho for the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference.  In the picture above, you can see her working hard to let people know about the Girl Scout Keep it Clean! and Ask Me About Groundwater patches for girls of all ages.

Frannie got to hear from amazing speakers like Pat Mulroy, from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Bill and Rosemarie Alley, authors of High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World's Growing Dependence on Groundwater, as they discussed some of the most important issues surrounding groundwater at home and abroad.  Frannie also got to tour Boise's wastewater treatment plant and learn about Boise's struggle against the groundwater contamination they found when they were constructing a new park in the beautiful Boise River Greenbelt.

Frannie's favorite part of the conference was the Recognition Round Table Luncheon, where she got to hear from four leaders of Groundwater Guardian communities about outreach opportunities and solutions they've developed to solve groundwater issues in their area.  Each Groundwater Guardian speaker sat at the table for just a few minutes before moving on, but Frannie liked the personable experience and the chance to ask very specific questions about topics like sponsored field trips to the treatment plants in under-served communities and cost-sharing programs for well closure.

If you couldn't join Frannie at this conference, don't worry!  We are currently working to upload a conference summary and dozens of pictures on our website and we'll update the blog as soon as it's live.

Can't wait til then to learn more about groundwater?  Check out our Hydrogeology Challenge to see how water flows underground.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BLOG: At Home - Clean Your Drains Naturally to Protect Water

by Sally Phillips, freelance writer

Clean and sustainable groundwater is the water we drink and the water we use to grow our food. Groundwater is essential for both our health and the health of our environment and is the largest source of usable, fresh water in the world. In fact, about 27 trillion gallons of groundwater are withdrawn for use in the U.S. yearly. 

What we do at home has an impact on groundwater and the environment. Did you know that drain cleaners are actually among the most toxic home cleaning products? While you think you are unclogging your drains, you are actually harming your pipes, your health and the environment.

The Dangers For Your Health 
Drain cleaners often contain bleach, sodium silicate, lye or caustic soda. Bleach and ammonia can harm your lungs, eyes and respiratory system in general, as a combination of the two can produce toxic gases. This can happen even if you unknowingly dump an ammonia based cleaning solution after cleaning your floors down the sink, which might still contain drain cleaner.

Furthermore, lye requires the production of heavy metals and can cause irritation when breathed in or when it comes into contact with the skin.

Repeated contact with these hazardous chemicals can have serious repercussions on your health and lead to serious conditions and even poisoning. If swallowed, drain cleaners can even cause death.

The Dangers For The Environment
Bleach can combine with surface water to create a number of toxins which can represent a hazard to the environment. Lye is also dangerous for the environment, as it can modify the pH of water and in turn can affect the animals and plants living in lakes, streams and rivers.

Even the packaging is dangerous and should be treated as hazardous waste and cannot be recycled, as it still contains toxic chemicals and the residue from drain cleaners can be dangerous and have detrimental effects on the environment. 

The Natural Alternatives 
Clogs often are the direct result of dumping fat, oil or grease down the sink; these substances may come from dirty dishes or certain soaps. Even natural soaps may contain drain-clogging vegetable fats. Keeping your sinks, toilets and bathtubs clean with drain traps or by discarding what you can instead of pouring it down the drain can help your pipes last longer and benefit the environment. 

If your drains do get clogged, you can use hot water as an immediate solution. In fact, hot water melts soap scum and grease and enough hot water will flush the melted grease out of your pipes. It can even help with particles such as eggshells or hair, as it will melt the grease surrounding those particles. Be sure to check the temperature of the water however, as boiling water can actually melt your pipes.

A plunger can also be an effective solution, as sometimes the change in pressure is sufficient to move the clog to an area of the pipe where it is easier to rinse it away. A strong seal around the edge of the plunger is necessary for best results. 

Other effective solutions include a combination of baking soda and vinegar, which produces carbon dioxide and dissolve residues, and natural enzyme drain cleaners, which employ enzymes to eat the organic material stuck in your drains. 

Prevention is the Key
The best way to keep your pipes clean and help the environment is to try to avoid clogs in the first place. This is easy if you follow a few simple rules: 

  • Place a hair trap in showers
  • Let grease solidify and throw it in the trash; do not pour it down the drain 
  • Do not put fruit and vegetable peels or cheese in the garbage disposal

Unclogging your drains using harsh chemicals can be dangerous to you and the environment, but by keeping your drains clean and using natural solutions, you can avoid the negative effects of chemical drain cleaners.


Sally Phillips is a freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible. Reach her at

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the view of The Groundwater Foundation, its board of directors, or individual members.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {DIY Halloween Bats}

Halloween is almost here!  Are you ready?  If not, it's easy! You can make your own bat decorations for any room in your house and even outside (as long as they don't get wet!) in just a few steps.

You'll need an empty toilet paper or paper towel roll, black paint, white paint or googly eyes or some other eye-sticker, brushes, black paper, scissors, and glue.  The string and the hole punch are optional if you are considering hanging your decorations from door handles or tree limbs.

Before beginning, if you're using a paper towel roll, you will need to cut it into three smaller pieces about the size of a toilet paper roll.

1. If you want to hang up your bats at the end, then you need to start by punching 2 holes on either side of the roll and thread your string through.  Then, fold the ends of the empty toilet paper roll in together.

2. Paint the roll black and, while it dries, cut out bat wings from the paper.  Make sure to leave a spot in the middle so you can glue the wings to the back of the roll. You're almost done!

3. Once the glue is dry, bend the wings back just enough so that they stick out from bat. At this point, you can either stick on your googly eyes or eye stickers or just dab on some white paint for the eyes.

 4. Hang your bat where everyone can see! Have a very Happy Halloween everyone!

P.S. You may have noticed that Frannie isn't here to do this craft with you today, but don't worry.  She's on her way to the Groundwater Foundation's 2017 National Conference in Boise, Idaho!  She is so excited to meet with groundwater professionals from all over the United States and share with you some stories about her adventures in a couple of weeks. See you then!

Monday, October 9, 2017

BLOG: Beautiful Boise

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

It's pronounced "Boy-see" NOT "Boy-zee." It was one of the original pilot communities involved in the Groundwater Guardian program, and has been designated every year since 1994. It's also the host of the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference.

It has a population of over 250,000 and its nickname is the City of Trees. In fact, According to oral history, French-Canadian fur trappers named Boise in the early 19th century. The trappers, after crossing the hot, dry desert, crested a hill and, gazing down up on the woods surrounding the Boise River, exclaimed “Les bois! Les bois!” (“Woods! Woods!”). Fort Boise was established in July of 1863 to keep peace in the mining camps and to protect the Oregon Trail pioneers from Indian raids. The City of Boise was established quickly and served as a service center for gold and silver miners in the nearby mountains and foothills. The wooded Boise River is now the scenic backdrop for a beautiful and popular greenbelt path and so many species of trees have been planted that today Boise is known as the “City of Trees.” 

Boise is home to a number of interesting and unique attractions, including:

Basque Museum and Cultural Center (208-343-2671, 611 W. Grove St.)
Boise is home to the largest concentration of Basques per capita in the U.S., and Boise also has North America’s only Basque museum, the internationally renowned Oinkarl Basque Dancers and authentic Basque eateries.

Esther Simplot Park (614 N Whitewater Park Blvd.)
An expansive 55-acre site encompasses approximately 23 acres of ponds suitable for fishing, wading and swimming. The park features include trails, docks, wetlands, boardwalks, shelters, grassy open areas, a playground, bridges and restrooms. A meandering stream will connect the park’s two ponds with Quinn’s Pond. It is the most recent addition to the “Ribbon of Jewels”—a string of riverside parks named for prominent local women. 

Boise River Greenbelt (208-384-4240, multiple starting points, including Kathryn Albertson Park) 
The 25- mile riverfront Greenbelt, ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling, skating and general relaxing, meanders through Boise. The paved pathway connects several parks throughout the city. 

World Center for Birds of Prey (208-362-8687, 5668 W. Flying Hawk Ln.) 
Visitors can see rare falcons and eagles up close and the inner workings of an endangered species program. This unique center on the outskirts of Boise is the most sophisticated facility in the world for breeding and releasing birds of prey

Snake River Valley Wine Region 
There are nearly 30 Idaho wineries within a 45 minute drive of downtown Boise. Ten wineries and vineyards are located in the Southwest Idaho Urban Wine District. The region boasts award-winning wines and innovative wineries. Lush orchards, scenic valleys and rugged mountains provide the perfect backdrop for wine tasting.

Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial (208-345-0304, 777 S. 8th St.) 
This memorial is an example of what can happen when a community and an entire state come together for a cause. The first in the U.S. to honor Anne Frank, it offers lessons on courage, strength, dignity of human spirit and the value of human rights for all men and women, and it will have a lasting impression on those who visit. 

Table Rock (Southeast of downtown Boise) 
This prominent local landmark is a popular spot for hikers and outdoor adventurers. Table Rock offers challenging hiking and mountain biking trails, and is easily accessible from the Old Idaho Penitentiary parking lot. Offering stunning views of the Boise skyline, foothills and the Treasure Valley, Table Rock is a favorite among trail enthusiasts. 

Idaho Botanical Garden (208-343-8649, 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd.) 
Located in Boise’s Old Penitentiary historical district, the Idaho Botanical Gardens enhances the community’s quality of life by promoting a love of nature, and offering an enriching garden experience through educational programs, botanical collections, a variety of entertainment, cultural and community events. 

Idaho State Capitol Building (208-334-2475, 700 W Jefferson St.) 
Idaho’s Capitol Building is the only one in the United States heated by geothermal water. The hot water is tapped and pumped from a source 3,000 feet underground. Geothermal energy has a long history in Boise starting back in the late 1800s.

Join us and be in Boise for the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference! Come early and stay late to enjoy all that Boise has to offer. We hope to see you soon!

Find out more about Boise at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {How to Read a Water Bill}

Water bills can be a little confusing when you are first learning to read them and, while it is easy to identify how much you have to pay for the current billing period, other information may vary in name and format from place to place.  So whether you have moved to into a new home or you are looking at your very first water bill, here’s some useful tips on reading it so that you can save money, and water, in the future.

1. Meter Class.  The class off the water meter indicates at what flow rate the water meter meets the common accuracy features.  Classes of water meter range from low (small, Class A meters, used in most residences) to high (Class D) degrees of accuracy at detecting very low flow rates.

2. Average Daily Consumption (ADC).  The ADC is an average of your water consumption over the course of the billing period.  On average, the ADC per person is 55 gallons.  If you track your usage with ADC, you can detect leaks earlier or proactively work to reduce your water use.

3. Consumption History.  Your utility bill may be nice enough to include a handy graph or chart with your water bill, essentially tracking your usage for you.  Again, this may help you detect leaks or identify times of the year where you need to make more of an effort to reduce water consumption.

4. Meter Readings in CCF.  Your water provider wants to accurately bill you for the water you use and will usually check your meter once every one to two months.  In some places, conditions may prevent Utility personnel from reading your meter and instead, they use your consumption history to estimate your total water usage.  If your meter reading is an estimate, you can request someone to come out and obtain an actual meter reading. Meter readings are taken by subtracting the volume at the end of a billing period from the volume at the beginning of that same billing period.  Water usage is measured in CCF, or 100 cubic feet. In this sample water bill, the meter registered 8 CCF, or 800 cubic feet, of wastewater and 0 CCF of yard water during the course of the billing period.

5. Sewer Fee, Stormwater Fee, Environmental Initiative Fees. These will be listed towards the bottom of your bill, including your city’s landfill or refuse service fee. These are fees that allow the city to maintain existing water and sewer systems and potentially build new ones.  There may be additional fees such as “flush” taxes that allow cities and states to develop wastewater treatment facilities or CAP (customer assistance programs) that collect funding to assist with the cost of well-closures or water expenses for low-income households.

Check out your water bill today and try to identify these 5 pieces of information.  Now you know how you can use your water bill and start saving money and water.