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.

BLOG: Groundwater in a Climate-Changed World

by Pat Mulroy, Non-resident Senior Fellow for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy for The Brookings Institution and Practitioner in Residence for the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law

When I began my career in water in the mid-1980’s, the very first issue we had to contend with was a groundwater table that had been so over-drafted in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that subsidence was causing houses to slip off their foundation. Previous generations had fooled themselves into believing the issuance of temporary water rights to avoid connecting to the Colorado River would not have an affect, but it did. After many years and millions of dollars in recharge efforts we were able to stabilize the groundwater table.  

Yes, experience has taught us the risks of unchecked pumping. However, even today there are areas where there is still an inordinate reliance on natural groundwater and the fears of the wells running dry mount every year. There are also areas that engage in “panic pumping” when drought has ravaged surface supplies or the courts have curtailed surface water diversions (or in the case of California, both).

As the effects of a warming planet really begin to take hold we are seeing surface water supplies evaporate at elevated rates and flood events that are scouring the countryside.  “Normal” weather patterns are very much in our rear view mirror. If there has ever been a time for conjunctive management of water resources it is now. There exist already great examples of created groundwater banks that are carefully recharged and managed to buffer the inevitable shortage. Those can be jurisdictionally proprietary or they can exist across state lines.

We have always held onto the notion that once we invest in water infrastructure we have to utilize it each and every year, whether it is a surface water diversion or groundwater resources. We have built a system of water right accounting, in states that have a groundwater appropriation system, which requires us to use the supplies to which we have rights each and every year. The rationale in arid states is obvious. In Nevada all groundwater belongs to the state and a water right is merely a permit to use those supplies. Since the resource is so scarce the notion of hoarding it when you have no beneficial use for it or you no longer are putting it to beneficial use was established long ago. Today, however, in the face of increased uses and decreased water availability this type of “use it or lose it” principle can work against us. When it is in the best interest of the basin that we conserve the supply and allow basins to rest, the law precludes us from doing it. States have begun to grapple with amending these restraints, at least affording the regulators more flexibility.

In a changing protecting our groundwater resources has never been more important. This will require careful examination of not only our usage, but also of the laws that have for so long created the framework within which govern all groundwater extractions. Effectively managing these groundwater resources may one day be the only thing that will allow a community and the surrounding environment to survive.


2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference | October 24-26, 2017 | Boise, ID
Don't miss out - hear Pat Mulroy's keynote presentation, "Groundwater in a Climate-Changed World: Risks and Opportunities" along with other expert speakers. Register today! 

Pat Mulroy serves as a Non-resident Senior Fellow for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy for The Brookings Institution and also as a Practitioner in Residence for the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law.  Mulroy also serves on the Wynn Resorts Ltd Board of Directors. Between 1989 and early 2014, Pat Mulroy served as General Manager of both the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Mulroy was a principal architect of the SNWA, helping to guide Southern Nevada through one of the worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River.  At UNLV’s Boyd School of Law and DRI, Mulroy’s focus is on helping communities in water-stressed areas throughout both the American Southwest and the world develop strategies to address increased water resource volatility and identify solutions that balance the needs of all stakeholders.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

BLOG: Groundwater - The Neglected Child of the Water World

by Bill and Rosemarie Alley

We look forward to participating in the Groundwater Foundation's national conference in Boise. Rosemarie will begin with her insights on writing about science for the general reader. Bill will follow with groundwater examples from around the world, and conclude with thirteen key factors that contribute to good groundwater governance.

As we all know, groundwater is the neglected child of the water world. There are many interesting books and documentaries about surface water that are raising awareness and appreciation for today’s challenges with rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. But when it comes to groundwater—that 95 percent of earth’s unfrozen fresh water—most people are barely aware of it.

This has begun to change in recent years. Thanks in large part to the hard work of
organizations like the Groundwater Foundation and the National Ground Water Association, we are seeing a growing interest and appreciation of this great hidden world. From the community to the regional level, people are beginning to understand that effective groundwater governance requires collective action, with stakeholders working together, instead of the top-down decision-making that governs surface water. Groundwater is a democratic resource, not only because of its wide availability but also because managing it wisely means that people have to get together and be willing compromise.

As a scientist/nonscientist writing team, our goal in writing “High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater” was to bring greater visibility to the importance of, and growing threats to, this precious resource. Our goal was to cover groundwater as a global issue, but not as another crisis book. As such, we included stories of people and organizations who are working hard to make a difference, including the Groundwater Foundation.

We hope to see you in Boise!

2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference | October 24-26, 2017 | Boise, ID
Don't miss out - hear Bill and Rosemarie and other expert speakers. The Alleys' book will be available for purchase and signing at the conference. Register today! 

As a scientist/nonscientist writing team, Dr. William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley communicate complex environmental science issues to a broad public. Dr. Alley provides the scientific expertise and Rosemarie’s job is to turn it into an engaging narrative. They have written two books together, as well as articles and Op/Ed pieces, and have given talks to a wide range of audiences. Their experiences as an unconventional team have given them unique insights in how to successfully hook the public’s interest with environmental science issues.

Friday, September 22, 2017

BLOG: 2017 Groundwater Guardians Make a Difference

by Sara Brock, Groundwater Foundation Program Manager

The Groundwater Foundation's Groundwater Guardian program has been around since 1994, but this was my first year working with the teams and learning about the various activities that communities across the country do to keep their groundwater safe. Communities earn their Groundwater Guardian designation by implementing Results-Oriented Activities (ROAs) that help educate their community about the their groundwater. These ROAs can take many shapes and forms, so here are my top 5 favorite ROAs that communities have completed in 2017.

5. In North Carolina, Orange County’s team is contributing data for the Orange Well Net (OWN), a national groundwater observation well network. This network is a drought monitoring tool that is equipped with an early warning system for declining groundwater levels.  By detecting drought conditions earlier, water suppliers can enact the necessary steps to prevent a serious water crisis. 

4. Many of our teams are based in water districts and utilities or have roles in some other governing role in regulating their city’s water supplies.  It’s common, and in some cases legally required, that these agencies provide an annual water quality report. While steps like these are routine, they are a crucial and concise way of getting all relevant information out to the public.

3. In Elkhart, Indiana, a high school student aquatic biology program collaborated with community volunteers to remove a whopping 2,280 pounds of trash from their river! This number includes the 17 tires they pulled out, along with more commonly littered items. 

2.  Shrewsbury Borough’s Groundwater Guardian team in Pennsylvania is really friendly with its community, working within businesses and even hospitals to make sure that wellhead protection requirements are met. Developers are provided with GIS maps of Wellhead Protection Areas to ensure that no future contamination threatens the community’s water supply.

1. My favorite ROA is slightly biased in that, in May, I personally got to run an activity at the Grand Island Children’s Groundwater Festival. Over 700 5th grade students participated in a staple event of the area for almost 30 years. The most amazing thing about this festival is that it is replicated in almost every state that has a Groundwater Guardian team!  Besides the Children’s Groundwater Festival in Nebraska that I attended, similar festivals have taken place in Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

Being the manager of the Groundwater Guardian program has been a great learning experience.  It’s sometimes easy to look at the gargantuan issues of depletion and pollution and think there’s no way to save our water.  The Groundwater Guardian’s network of talented and passionate individuals is an inspiring force that educates and supports communities to always do better by protecting and conserving of our most precious resource, water. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {DIY Book Covers}

Hopefully by now, you have all of the books and textbooks you need for your classes.  The best way to protect your books and yourself from damage fines is to make sure they’re covered.  Most stores sell inexpensive, colorful elastic cloth covers, but you can create your own customized covers with paper grocery sacks.
You will need a book, brown paper grocery bag, and scissors.
Tape and markers or crayons are optional.
Let's Get Started!

1. Cut down one corner of the paper bag and take away the bottom.  If your bag has handles, cut those away too. You should now have a large, flat piece of brown paper. 
 2. Customize the fit by placing your book on top of the paper bag. Fold the bottom of the paper up against the bottom of the book and make a crease.  Do the same thing with the paper at the top of the book.  Remove the book fold inward along the creases for the whole length of the paper.
3. Center the book on the paper.  You can do this by placing your book roughly in the center of the paper and folding the ends inside the front and back covers. Trim the paper if it’s too long and adjust the ends until they’re evenly situated on the inside cover.

4. You’re almost done!  Feed one end of the folded paper down and around the inside covers so that the top and bottom of the book are hidden behind the paper. Keep pulling the paper down until it fits snugly around the book. If you need to, you can secure your cover by placing tap along the top and bottom edges.

5. Decorate!!!

Show your friends how to customize their own book covers and share them with us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blog!

Friday, September 15, 2017

BLOG: Global Connections

By Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

The mission of The Groundwater Foundation is to connect people, businesses and communities through local groundwater education and action. These connections happen every day, everywhere. We recently learned through Twitter about a connection in Kenya.

The Kingwede Water Club in Kwale County, Kenya learned about groundwater, how it can be become contaminated, and more by using our Awesome Aquifer Kits

Photo credit: Kingwede Water Club Blog
"In Kwale County on the coast of Kenya, a research project called Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development (Gro for GooD) is striving to help government and groundwater users find a management approach that balances human health, economic growth, and resource sustainability demands while benefiting the poorest demographic.

Inspired by community demand, Gro for GooD  is developing a programme of engagement to teach young women at Kingwede Secondary about water science, policy and management. The hope if to inspire them to promote better use and protection of water resources in their futures. Student-led activities will promote participation and teamwork and help the members develop their research and communication skills. Furthermore, a major benefit of the club is to showcase career options and pathways in environmental science and management and demonstrate that they are open to women as well as men."

Photo credit: Kingwede Water Club Blog
Read all about their learning experience.

Our Awesome Aquifer Kits are truly awesome – they help connect people across the globe in our effort to protect and conserve groundwater.

Do you want to have some fun learning about groundwater? Starting with our Awesome Aquifer kits is a great way. Find out more about the Awesome Aquifers activity or purchase your own.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {5 Tips to Go Green at School}

Welcome back to school!  Frannie has some useful tips to help you and your friends go green this semester.

1. If you get a ride to school, try carpooling with your friends.  Not only will you be environmentally friendly, but you will also have more fun singing with your friends to the songs on the radio.

2. If you are close to the school, encourage your friends to walk, bike, or even swim to school instead of using a car or the bus.

3. When shopping for school supplies, look for recycled paper, pencils made from recycled denim, and backpacks created from old juice boxes.  Save money, be eco-friendly, and stay on trend for the school year.

4. Speaking of trends, did you know that Target donates it’s damaged, discontinued, and out-of-season items to Goodwill?  You can often find current styles and gadgets at discount stores for a fraction of the price while helping reduce waste.

5. Frannie knows that food waste is a problem, but single-use plastic baggies or brown bags and pre-wrapped snacks are also bad for the environment.  Instead, invest in a re-usable lunch box and utensils. Sturdy plastic storage containers help you go green while protecting your sandwiches and bananas from getting squished on the way to school.


Bonus Tip: 
Check to see if your school has a recycling program or environmental club you can join. If there isn’t one, consider starting your own and helping your friends go green at school. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

BLOG: Protect Your Groundwater Day is September 5

If you are a private water well owner, there are many ways to protect your water quality. Two of the most important are:

1. To make sure your well is properly capped, and 
2. To properly plug any abandoned wells on your property. 

That’s why the 2017 theme for Protect Your Groundwater Day, on Tuesday, September 5, is “Cap It, Plug It!” 

Why is this so important? A water well provides a direct connection between the what’s above the ground and groundwater in the subsurface. 

If an active water well is not properly capped—or if an abandoned well is not properly plugged—it can create a direct pathway for contamination in the same groundwater you and others use for their drinking water supply. 

If you own a household well, you are responsible for making sure that your well is properly capped and any abandoned wells on your property are properly plugged. 

What makes a properly capped water well? First, not just any covering will do on top of the well casing, that vertical pipe that extends above the ground in your well. A proper well cap should: 
• Be bolted or locked, so that it cannot be easily removed, 
• Have a rubber seal to prevent anything from infiltrating the well where the cap is joined to the well casing, 
• Be in good condition. 

A tight-fitting well cap that is not bolted or locked can be jarred loose or removed by someone other than the well owner. Also, a well cap that lacks a rubber seal or is cracked or otherwise broken can allow bugs, vermin, bacteria or other types of contaminants above the ground surface into the well.

 Well caps should be installed by a water well system professional, and any well cap maintenance or replacement should be done by a professional. Also, a well system should be disinfected when a well cap is installed, repaired, or replaced. 

How do I properly plug an abandoned well? First, the challenge is to find abandoned wells on your property. Some abandoned wells are obvious while others are not. Survey your property for: 
• Pipes sticking out of the ground. 
• Small buildings that may have been a well house. 
• Depressions in the ground. 
• The presence of concrete vaults or pits. 
 Out-of-use windmills. 

Other tips for finding old, abandoned wells can be found in: 
• Old maps, property plans or property title documents. 
• Neighbors. 
• Additions to an old home that might cover up an abandoned well. 

A water well system professional may do additional checking—including a records check—for more information about abandoned wells. 

A water well system professional should always plug an abandoned well using proper techniques, equipment, and materials. The professional should: • Remove all material from the well that may hinder proper plugging. 
• Disinfect the well. 
• Then plug the well using a specialized grout that (1) keeps surface water from working its way into the borehole, and (2) prevents water from different subsurface levels from mixing. 

The cost to plug a well depends on factors including: 
• The depth and diameter of the well 
• The geology of the area 
• Accessibility to the well, and 
• The condition of the well. 

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

BLOG: Laytonsville Golf Course, Gaithersburg, Maryland

This summer, the Groundwater Blog will be profiling participants of the Groundwater Guardian Green Site program. The program recognizes green spaces (golf courses, parks, nature areas, educational and office campuses, etc.) for using groundwater-friendly practices to maintain the site. Find out more.

Site: Laytonsville Golf Course, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Site Manager: Galen Evans, Golf Course Superintendent

Tell us a little about your site and its history. 
Located in almost the center of Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington DC, our golf course was built in 1971 and is an original course to the Montgomery County Revenue Authority. We have always been a public golf course and we are usually busy, as we typically have between 40,000 and 45,000 rounds played each year.

What’s the most unique feature of your site? 
The most unique feature on our property has to be that the spring near our 8th hole is listed as the original headwaters of Rock Creek. Rock Creek leaves our property and meanders all the way through Washington DC where it empties into the Potomac River and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay.

What groundwater-friendly practices are you most proud of? 
I'm most proud of the amount of native areas and stream buffers we've implemented around the course over the past several years. Native areas, or low-maintenance areas, are left to grow naturally and receive virtually no inputs other than being mowed down once a year. These areas of dense turf with deep, fibrous roots, help to filter sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants out of the runoff before it enters streams and leaves our property. These areas also help to filter runoff as it permeates the soil and moves down to our groundwater.

What would you tell another site manager about being a Green Site? 
I would tell anyone in charge of maintaining a property to consider becoming a Green Site. This program really helped me to validate that the practices we employ at our course are benefiting the local environment, especially our groundwater. During the application process, I was also given a better understanding of other ways wee can improve our environmental impact and groundwater protection.

What’s the best part about your job? 
The best part of my job is that I get to be outside every day. It feels great to be able to balance providing quality course conditions to our golfers and also protecting our natural resources and the environment.


Galen Evans has been the Course Superintendent at Laytonsville Golf Course for six years. Find out more about Laytonsville Golf Course at or

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Food Waste Part 3: Upcycled Leftovers}

This is the third part of Frannie’s dive into reducing food waste at home.  Click to read the first and second parts.

Did you know that there are ways to reduce food waste and save water even after you’re done cooking and eating?

If you’re like Frannie, you know that variety is the spice of life. Eating the same thing for several meals each week can get a little boring.  Instead of letting all of those leftovers go to waste, consider freezing them for a few weeks or, depending on the item, up to a few months.

If you have so many leftovers that you can’t possibly eat them all before they good bad, consider donating them.  Even if your food is a little too old for food centers to take it, many farmers accept scrap donations for pig feed or to add to their own compost piles. To find a farm near you that does this, click here.

After your morning cup of coffee or afternoon teak, the used leaves and grounds can be added to your compost pile or simply scooped on top of your houseplants or garden.  If you use coffee pods, consider starting seedlings or small succulents in them instead of heading straight for the garbage bin.  You can find ideas for pod potters, along with other artsy ways to upcycle the pods, here.
And remember, the best way to really reduce food waste is to educate yourself and others about why it's an issue and what you can do about it.

Share with us some of your ways to reduce food and water waste after your meals on our Facebook, Twitter, or E-mail.  Happy Upcycling!

Friday, August 11, 2017

BLOG: 8 Ways to Protect Water During National Water Quality Month

Water covers most of the Earth, exists in the cracks and crevices beneath the earth's surface, makes up most of the human body, and is vital for all living things. Needless to say, clean water is important. During a month when everyone is out enjoying lakes, rivers, oceans and having tall glasses of ice-cold water, it becomes even more apparent how important quality water is. August is National Water Quality Month. How can you have an impact on water quality? Here are some ways you can be part of the solution:

1. Don't flush medications.
Never flush old or unused medications down your toilet or the sink. Pipes can lead back into a general water source which then gets contaminated with your medication. Find a local take-back location (Nebraskans - you can take medications back to a participating pharmacy any time!), or utilize the DEA's take-back days in October and April. 

2. Don’t hose off the driveway.
Always sweep your driveway to keep it clean, rather than using the hose. When washing your car, use a commercial car wash whenever possible rather than doing it yourself at home. When chemicals run down your driveway into the storm drain they flow directly into lakes and streams.

3. Pick up the poop. 
Yep, it may be gross, but when it rains, that water picks up poop particles from your pet and it may be deposited into lakes, rivers, or streams. Nobody wants that - pick up your pet's poop.

4. Watch out for litter.
We all know to avoid littering, but go a step further and keep an eye out for any litter wherever you go. Whenever possible, pick it up and put it in the proper disposable bin.

5. Follow instructions when using any chemicals.
Pesticides and fertilizers can have a proper use, but avoid overusing them whenever possible. The chemicals can travel through runoff water and soil, thus contaminating ground water. Follow label instructions carefully!

6. Stay phosphate-free.
Help save our lakes and rivers by choosing nontoxic household products, and using phosphate-free items like detergent.

7. Join a cleanup project.
If you want to go a step beyond preventative care, be proactive by joining a local or national clean up project that works on water. This is a great project for a Groundwater Guardian team! No team in your area? Get one started!

8. Educate yourself.
Finally, take some time this month to educate yourself on what’s actually in your water, the quality of your water and how it can further be improved. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledgeable you are, the more you can make a difference.

Water sustains life - it’s vitally important to all of us. This August, celebrate National Water Quality Month by being aware of your water habits and taking steps to ensure clean water for everyone. When we have clean water, we can lead satisfying lives.

Want more ideas? See what else you can do.

Adapted from

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Food Waste Part 2: Save and Reuse}

This is the second part of Frannie’s dive into reducing food waste at home.  To read the first part, click here.
Do you like to cook? Frannie does!

There are ways to reduce food waste and save water even when you’re preparing food and cooking food.

To make sure our food is clean, we should wash our fruits and vegetables even if they come in a bag.  Before turning on the tap, put a bowl in sink to catch the dirty water.  When you are done washing your food, you can use the water on your houseplants or garden instead of letting it run down the sink.  You can also do this with the water you have used to boil fruits, vegetables, and eggs after, of course, you let it cool.

As pointed out last week, you can easily use vegetable peelings to start your own compost pile, but did you know you can also some vegetable food waste to make soup?  Save your carrot and celery ends and freeze them for up to six months and boil them in water to make a delicious vegetable broth.  You can also do this with vegetables that are beginning to get old by simply cutting away any bad parts and chopping them into large chunks.

Want a meat broth instead? Save bones and scraps leftover from your pork chops or chicken and add them to boiling water or the veggie broth.

When your bread goes stale, you can break it into pieces and make homemade croutons or breadcrumbs using recipes like this one.  If you want to try something a bit different, try these cornbread croutons!

Even cheese can be reused.  After cutting away the Parmesan rind, turn it into a nice cheesy broth for a Wisconsin Cheese soup or a creamy pasta sauce for your next Italian night.

Share with us some of your ways to reduce food and water waste while cooking on our Facebook, Twitter, or E-mail.  Bon appetite!

Friday, August 4, 2017

BLOG: Recharging Groundwater Education

Recharging Groundwater Education trains teachers to
further engage students in groundwater education.
The Groundwater Foundation is thrilled to begin work on a new project funded by EPA Region 7.

The Environmental Education grant was awarded in conjunction with EPA’s Office of External Affairs and the Environmental Education Program in Washington, D.C.

The grant project, “Recharging Groundwater Education,” will train teachers to engage students in problem-solving and critical thinking around local environmental threats to the groundwater supply in Nebraska; mentor high school students through outdoor internships and stewardship projects; and promote student exploration and awareness of career opportunities in water-related science and engineering fields.

“This grant helps teach Nebraska students about how to protect their Nebraska groundwater through hands-on experience with nature, and explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career paths,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President said, “We are excited about the opportunity to equip educators to teach about groundwater and to complement the lessons learned in the classroom with mentoring opportunities for students to learn about careers and to get involved in local protection efforts.  With over 30 years of experience our organization has witnessed how education is a catalyst to action. We look forward to working with our partners across the state to foster a new generation of environmental stewards and are grateful EPA makes these efforts possible.” 

The Groundwater Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate the public about the need to conserve and protect groundwater. Surface water or ground water can serve as sources of drinking water. Protecting source water from contamination can reduce treatment costs, and risks to public health from exposures to contaminated water.

For more information about the Recharging Groundwater Education project, contact us at or 402-434-2740.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Food Waste Part 1: Composting}

Food is an integral part of the water cycle.  Plants need water to grow.  Animals need plants to eat and water to drink.  The big trucks need water to keep their engines cool on the long interstate drives from the farm to the store to the table.  You even use water to clean and cook your food.

We know it’s important to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, but did you know you can do that with your food, too?

Food waste is the name for our leftovers after we’re done preparing, cooking, or eating our food.  In this mini-series, Frannie will look at different ways that we can reduce, reuse, and recycle food waste.

Composting is one of the easiest way to reuse food waste from fruits and vegetables.  It reduces the volume of trash we put into landfills while creating nutrient-rich soils we can use to grow beautiful, healthy plants.

It starts with a box. Or a bin. Or hole in the ground. Or even just a pile in the corner of your yard that is out of the way and people know not to step in.  Any way you have it, the important part of the pile is the worms and fungi and bugs, decomposers that will take whatever you put into your compost and turn it into the dirt you want at the end.
Once you have your compost pile or box or hole, you can start putting things in there.  But wait, you can’t put all of your food waste in the compost.  Only put plant-based items in your bin, such as nut shells, fruit and veggie peelings, grass clippings, and weeds.  Things you should not put in your compost include meat, dairy, oils, or fats because they might attract some pests you don’t want near your home.

Once you have added your first compostable materials, cover them with soil or some already completed compost.  This will kick-start the decomposing process by introducing the worms and microbes (little bacteria) to the fresh scraps.

Add a little water for moisture, turn or stir it once a week, and voila! Your composted soil should be completely done and ready to use in just a couple months! Of course you can always add to the top of the pile and scoop out the finished compost at the bottom to keep the process going.

Like Frannie said before, the finished product that comes out of a compost pile is a nutrient-rich soil that you can use to start new seedlings or spread on the top of your garden like a fertilizer.

Share pictures of your compost piles and gardens for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blog! Happy Gardening!