Thursday, June 20, 2019

BLOG: Ohio Groundwater Guardians Recognized

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

The National Ground Water Association hosted a conference this week in Westerville, Ohio focused on the hot topic of PFAS contamination (PFAS Management, Mitigation, and Remediation Conference).

Several Groundwater Guardians located in Ohio were in attendance, and received special recognition. NGWA CEO Terry Morse and Board President Scott King thanked the teams for their continued work and passion in groundwater education and protection efforts in their communities.

NGWA Board President Scott King talks about the Groundwater Guardian program.

From left: Scott King; Mike Ekberg, Miami Conservancy District; Claudia Dawson, Hamilton to New Baltimore Groundwater Consortium; Jim Shoemaker, Dayton Multi-Jurisdictional Source Water Protection Program; Karen Beason, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; NGWA CEO Terry Morse; Tim McLelland, Hamilton to New Baltimore Groundwater Consortium

Mike Ekberg, Miami Conservancy District with Scott King

Claudia Dawson and Tim McLelland, Hamilton to New Baltimore Groundwater Consortium with Scott King.

Jim Shoemaker, Dayton Multi-Jurisdictional Source Water Protection Program with Scott King

Karen Beason, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with Scott King

You can get involved as a Groundwater Guardian too! Find out more.

Friday, June 14, 2019

BLOG: Plastic, Plastic, and More Plastic

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Everywhere you look, there's plastic. Just glancing down at my desk I see a plastic paper clip holder, plastic mechanical pencil, plastic bases to my computer monitors. Plastic is here, there, everywhere.

I recently ready an article about a study of the remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean. It's one of the remotest places on Earth, with a population of only 600.

Google Maps

Marine scientists recently conducted a comprehensive survey of debris on the islands, and found a shocking amount of trash - 414 million pieces, weighing 238 tons. About 95% of the debris was plastic. Among this mess of trash were 977,000 shoes and 373,000 toothbrushes. In addition, 25% of the identifiable items were disposable plastics, such as straws, bags, and toothbrushes.

The study was published in the journal Nature and led by Dr. Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. Dr. Lavers said remote islands that don't have large human populations to produce trash are an indicator of the amount of plastic debris circulating in the world's oceans.

“Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” Lavers said.

Co-author Dr. Annett Finger from Victoria University noted, “As a result of the growth in single-use consumer plastics, it’s estimated there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of ocean plastic debris."

That's staggering. We're addicted to plastic, and the long term ramifications of this addiction on the environment are dire.

Dr. Finger says that “The scale of the problem means cleaning up our oceans is currently not possible, and cleaning beaches once they are polluted with plastic is time consuming, costly, and needs to be regularly repeated as thousands of new pieces of plastic wash up each day. The only viable solution is to reduce plastic production and consumption while improving waste management to stop this material entering our oceans in the first place.”

The statement that cleaning up our oceans isn't possible is frightening. It's time for all of us to act now. Start by:

  • Unless necessary due to disability, skip the plastic straw. Invest in a stainless steel or other reusable straw.
  • Skip the plastic bag. Bring your own shopping tote to the grocery store, and switch to reusable produce bags or skip the bag all together. (be sure to wash your bags often!)
  • Look for ways to avoid buying products with plastic packaging - which is difficult. Buy in bulk whenever possible using a reusable bag/container.
  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers or bags instead of disposable plastics.
  • When stopping at your favorite coffee shop, bring your own insulated mug and skip the disposable cup.
  • Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying plastic bottles.
  • Bring your own containers for take-out food and restaurant leftovers. It may feel awkward, but many restaurants use styrofoam to package these foods.
  • Ditch soda, juice, and other plastic-bottled beverages. It's better for your health and you won't use the extra plastic.
  • Use natural cleaning cloths/scrubbers instead of plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges.
Get more ideas here and here and here.

As with any change, it takes all of us to do our part. As zero-waste chef Anne Marie Bonneau said, "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly."

Get started!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 4 - Surface Water}

This is the fourth part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwater and discharge.

Welcome back to Frannie’s deep dive into the water cycle! Today’s focus is surface water. Frannie knows that groundwater refers to water under the ground, so surface water must refer to the bodies of water above the ground, on the surface of the earth. Streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans are all examples of surface water.

Frannie’s experiment with the Awesome Aquifer Kit and her deep dive into the discharge process taught her that surface water is connected to groundwater. Streams and rivers can exchange water droplets that flow with the main current with water droplets that make up the subsurface flow, or flow beneath the streambed.

While Frannie wasn’t surprised by her research into streams and lakes, she was surprised to find surface water hiding in wetlands and glaciers! Wetlands, like marshes and swamps and bogs, are very important locations for groundwater recharge, which Frannie will talk about more later.  Wetlands near the sea or ocean can be flooded and drained by tidal activity and become salt marshes. All kinds of wetlands are incredibly important to prevent flooding and protect water quality.

Frannie has never seen a glacier, but in her research, she learned that she could think of it as a large river of ice that flows downhill under its own weight. When areas have a lot of snowfall in the winter start to warm up, the snow begins to melt and compress itself. If an area receives more snow than it can melt away, the melting snow turns into ice and grows with more cycles of snowfall and partial melting, eventually forming a glacier. Glaciers have an enormous effect on the topography, or layout of the land, in a region as well as its quantity and quality of available water.

Join Frannie next time as she follows the water cycle from rivers, wetlands, and glaciers to the sky. See you then!

Friday, May 31, 2019

BLOG: McEllhiney Lecture Series in Water Well Technology

William A. McEllhiney
The William A. McEllhiney Distinguished Lecture Series in Water Well Technology was established National Ground Water Association, and a groundwater contractor and civil engineer.
in 2000 to foster professional excellence in water well technology. The lecture series honors William A. McEllhiney, the 1948 founding president of the

Each year, a panel of groundwater contractors invites an outstanding groundwater professional to share his or her insights and work experiences with the industry. The Groundwater Foundation is pleased to have Jeffrey Williams, MGWC, CVCLD, as the 2020 McEllhiney Lecturer.

Requests to host the 2020 lecture are now open! If you're interested in hosting a lecture, complete and submit the request form to be considered for a McEllhiney Lecture host.

Jeff Williams
2020 Lecturer: Jeffrey Williams
Jeffrey (Jeff) Williams, MGWC; CVCLD began his career in the groundwater industry with his first full-time job at Spafford and Sons in Jericho, Vermont, in June 1980.  He and his father purchased that company in 1984. Jeff’s experience has been varied both in water well supply and geothermal heat pump operations. Like all water well supply contractors and one involved in a family business, he understands first-hand the challenges of working with a resource that consumers can’t see until it is brought to the surface, the immediate business impacts of regional and national economic conditions, and the critical need to plan for all types of contingencies. He became active in NGWA in 2006 as a member of the Safety Subcommittee and as a director candidate. He served on the NGWA Board and was association president in 2016. Jeff and his wife Carol Ann enjoy boating and family activities.

Williams' lecture for 2020 is titled "Running a Business or Doing a Job: Combining Professional Expertise with Business Savvy."
You are a business owner, or you are responsible for running a company. Have you made the mental transition from viewing your business as a series of individual jobs or as an entity offering a pallet of groundwater services? If you have any plans and goals for diversification, they require capital as well. Kudos to those who have, but this is not an easy journey mentally, financially, or emotionally. If your primary benchmark is how much you are charging per foot or for one water system installation, then you need to start the transition now. How do you begin thinking big picture and setting financial and production goals? What are the benchmarks? How do you manage equipment, time, and human and financial resources better? Are you planning your business model to include training, certifications, licensing and equipment replacement? And how do you bring others involved in the company in this much broader and more goal- oriented transformation. Just getting by isn’t an option—just like hoping to win the lottery is an unrealistic retirement plan. Planning and managing for greater profitability will determine the state of your business in the future.

For more information about the McEllhiney Lecture, including a current schedule of presentations for the 2019 lecturer, Gary Hix, check the Groundwater Foundation's website.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 3 - Discharge}

This is the third part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blogs on the overview of the water cycle and her first deep dive into groundwater!

Welcome back to Frannie’s deep dive into the water cycle! Today’s focus is discharge, represented by the black bead on her bracelet. Discharge is simply groundwater moving out of the ground into another stage of the hydrologic cycle.

A common type of discharge is through the springs that feed creeks, streams, and rivers. These springs can sometimes provide baseflow, the water that keeps streams flowing even during the hottest and driest weather. There are several kinds of springs, such as the seepage springs Frannie just described. Other types include fracture springs that discharge water from openings in impermeable rocks, tubular springs that discharge water through underground caverns and tunnels, and “wonky holes” which is an Australian term for freshwater springs that open up into the sea.

Plants also take a small part in the discharge stage of the water cycle.  Plants draw water up through their roots using water’s gravity-defying superpower of capillary action.  This process is called plant uptakeWater is drawn up through the stems, stalks, branches, and trunks of the plants to reach the leaves where it is needed to help the plant make its own food in photosynthesis.

One of the coolest things Frannie discovered during her research on the water cycle surrounds something called subduction. Subduction is actually part of the recharge process, which Frannie will revisit later with her blog on recharge, and is a part of how mountains and volcanoes form. When the water gets heated up by the earth’s mantle, it turns into a vapor and becomes highly pressurized.  Volcanoes will sometimes vent this vapor or, in massive eruptions, push magma and ash high into the sky with from the force of the pressure.

Join Frannie on the next stop on her journey – surface water! See you then!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

BLOG: Wayne's Story

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Wayne Madsen loved groundwater. He spent his career as a well driller with the family business he inherited from his father, tapping into the groundwater resources of Southwest Nebraska. He had a vision for the next generation of groundwater professionals, that they would be educated, engaged, and community-minded.

Wayne acted to make that vision a reality.

Wally and Wanda Water Drop
He saw the value in educating youth about groundwater. He was heavily involved in educating tens of thousands of kids at the Groundwater Foundation’s Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival. There they learned what groundwater is, how it moves, how we all rely on it, and planted the seeds for a lifetime of groundwater stewardship. Many kids even got to see firsthand what a well drilling rig looked like, and were fascinated by the process of tapping the resource that brought water to their homes. Wayne was instrumental in created “Wally and Wanda Water” water drop costumes that made the rounds at parades, fairs, festivals and home shows throughout Nebraska. He and his wife, Jean, even donned those costumes from time to time, bringing another element of fun to learning about groundwater to both kids and their parents.

Wayne’s hometown of Trenton, Nebraska also became a Groundwater Guardian thanks to, you guessed it, Wayne’s leadership. He wanted the broader community to know about the water they drank and that its protection was up to them. He spoke at meetings and events, pulled a float in area parades promoting the Groundwater Guardian team and groundwater, championed wellhead protection efforts, and volunteered significant time and expertise to other Groundwater Foundation educational programs.

Wayne Madsen receives the
Kremer Award in 2000
Wayne was a well-respected groundwater professional – he served on the Nebraska Well Drillers Association Board of Directors as its President and chaired the Public Affairs Committees. He worked with the Nebraska Legislature to adopt water well licensing laws, state water well construction standards, and continuing education requirements for water well professionals. His fellow groundwater professionals even named an award after him – the Wayne Madsen Award for Community Service.

The vision Wayne had for the future water professionals is here. You can follow his example for community engagement and education by getting involved with the Groundwater Foundation. Supporting the Foundation’s youth education and community action programs will help create a bright future for groundwater.

Friday, May 17, 2019

BLOG: Free Educator Toolkit

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

The Groundwater Foundation has compiled a variety of educational tools and resources into a convenient downloadable Educator Toolkit, available for free on the Foundation’s website.

The Toolkit is organized by age level, making it easy for elementary, middle, and high school educators to find the tools to best suit their classrooms or extracurricular setting. There are also a series of tools appropriate for all age groups.

The featured tool for both elementary and middle school ages is the Awesome Aquifer Kit. The additional resources can be used to supplement the curriculum.

Elementary resources include fun hands-on activities like the story of Frannie the Fish, Growing with Groundwater, word searches and crossword puzzles, Upcycled Conservation Flowers, Clean Water Challenge, and many more.

For middle school educators, find lesson plans and student worksheets, plus instructions for activities like You Be the Judge, Contamination on the Move, Water Quality Survey, and other free tools.

For high school educators, the featured tool is the Hydrogeology Challenge, a learning tool that introduces students to basic groundwater modeling concepts. Find a guide to Hydrogeology and links to other advanced activities.

There are additional free tools and resources appropriate for all ages - a demonstration of the Awesome Aquifer Kit, the Water1der and 30by30 free mobile apps, and the Groundwater Guardian and Groundwater Guardian Green Site programs.

Find the free educator toolkit, along with other great resources educators can use in the classroom and beyond to help students understand groundwater and how they can take action to protect it, visit

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 2 - Groundwater}

Welcome to the first stop on Frannie’s deep dive into the water cycle! Today’s topic, and the first bead on the water cycle bracelet, is groundwater!

Groundwater is the water beneath the surface of the ground that fills the spaces in the soil and gravel.  An aquifer is a collection of groundwater that’s held within a permeable layer of rock, sand, or gravel.  Aquifers can lie a few feet below the ground and be recharged with rain and floodwaters (Frannie learned that these are called unconfined aquifers) or be hundreds or thousands of feet inside the earth, trapped for hundreds of years beneath an impermeable layer like shale (confined aquifers).

Aquifer storage capacity is the amount of water that an aquifer’s material can hold when it’s totally full. When an area experiences a lot of long, severe droughts and the sands, soils, and gravel settle, an aquifer can lose its ability to hold as much water as it once could.  Reread the “Seeing an Aquifer from Space” blog Frannie wrote a few weeks ago for a quick refresher on storage capacity and storage capacity loss.

Perhaps one of the coolest things about aquifers and the groundwater in them is the flow! Groundwater certainly moves down through the ground from the surface, but did you know it also flows horizontally? Like a river, groundwater will flow “downhill” or down the slope of layers that make up the aquifer. Unlike a river, groundwater takes much longer to travel. A drop of water in a river might be able to travel up to 7 feet in one second, but a drop traveling through the ground might take a couple of days to travel the same distance.

These time of travel calculations are very useful to hydrogeologists when they need to predict how quickly groundwater will move and where it’s going.  Flow direction and time of travel can be affected by many things, including different points of discharge, which just happens to be the next bead on the bracelet!

Next time, Frannie will talk about different kinds of discharge and share the really cool connection between groundwater and volcanoes. See you then!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

BLOG: Big Science Celebration

by Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation

Science is amazing. From biology to chemistry to physics to hydrogeology and every field in between, it's what makes the world go around. Last weekend I got to attend the Big Science Celebration, which is the culmination of the COSI Science Festival. COSI, or Center of Science and Industry, is a nationally-esteemed science center located in Columbus, Ohio focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) topics with interactive exhibits, galleries, live shows, a Planetarium, and digital learning lab, along with educational outreach programs.

The Big Science Celebration included booths and exhibitors doing fun, hands-on learning about all different types of science in our every day lives. I was there showcasing our Awesome Aquifers activity and teaching young scientists about groundwater.

It was a great day to teach about groundwater recharge thanks to the rain that fell most of the day, but didn't dampen the excitement or spirit of the kids and adults I got to interact with as they enthusiastically learned about groundwater terminology, movement, contamination, connection to surface water, and how we use groundwater every day.

My number one takeaway from Big Science Celebration? We have an outstanding next generation of scientists and engineers! These youngsters are going to do great things, and we need to continue to support their interest in groundwater and science as they grow to be our leaders.

Thank you kids, for bringing sunshine through your joy of discovering and understanding one of our most precious resources - groundwater! And kudos to the parents who accompanied their kids to the event, making it possible for them to enjoy the magic of science. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

BLOG: Giving in the Month of May

Can you believe it's May?

On May 30, the Groundwater Foundation is once again participating in Give to Lincoln Day, which promotes philanthropy in our hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Any gifts given to the Groundwater Foundation between now and May 30 through this link help us earn a portion of a $450,000 match fund from the Lincoln Community Foundation and its sponsors.

We're proud to be part of our city, and proud of the work we do locally. We work with teachers, students, and various parts of our community to foster groundwater education and protection efforts.

Please remember groundwater on Give to Lincoln Day, and make your gift to help more people understand groundwater - the water Lincoln drinks - and take action to protect it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 1 - An Overview}

The water cycle is probably something that you’ve already learned in school. You know that water goes into the sky, forms a cloud, and then comes down as rain or snow to re-enter the earth and do it all again.

But the water cycle isn’t as much of a circle as you might think. Sometimes a water droplet might go through a plant, into a glacier, or even enter your body when you take a drink on a hot day.

Frannie wants to take a closer look at the different parts of the water cycle over the next few weeks to get to know all the different paths a water droplet can take, but before we can do that, we should review the basics.

Do you have your water cycle bracelet you made two weeks ago? Great! You can use that to follow along as we review the parts of the water cycle.

Frannie’s bracelet starts with an orange bead, which means our first stop will be groundwater. Groundwater is the water that’s underground. It fills the empty spaces between gravel and soil and is found in many different soil layers. In the next blog, Frannie will dive down into those layers and talk about aquifers, storage, and flow.

The next bead is black, which represents discharge. When we’re talking about the water cycle, discharge simply means that groundwater leaves the ground and enters another part of the water cycle.  Many people know that groundwater discharge is connected to rivers and oceans, but did you know that it’s also connected to volcanoes?! Frannie can’t wait to show you how!

The third bead is light blue and represents surface water.  Defining this one is easy because it’s the water we see around us in puddles on the sidewalk, lakes, and in the ocean. But as you might know, surface water is intertwined with all parts of the water cycle. Frannie will swim through all kinds of surface water to show you just how strong those connections are.

Evaporation is the dark blue bead that comes next on the bracelet. Evaporation is the process of water going from a liquid state into a gaseous state. You can actually see evaporation happen when you make a cup of hot chocolate. When you mix hot water and hot chocolate mix in your cup, you still have the liquid form that makes up the hot chocolate that you drink. The steam that rises from the top is also water, but it’s been heated to the point that it turns into a gas.  Frannie will share a little bit about how the sun heats and evaporates surface water, but she is excited to also dive in to the lesser known processes of “evaporation” from plants and mountains.

Condensation is the white bead, chosen because the largest collections of condensed water float in the sky above our heads: clouds. Condensation has to do with one of water’s unique properties of adhesion, or stickiness. Water molecules really like to adhere, or stick, together. After the water vapor has risen into the sky, it cools down and is drawn together to form a cloud. But clouds don’t just stay in one place. If they did, it would be raining over the oceans all of time. Frannie wants you to help her explore how water is transported through the clouds.

The yellow bead represents precipitation, a part of the water cycle we all know and love.  Precipitation is a fancy word to describe any kind of water falling from the sky onto the ground. It’s rain! It’s snow! It’s hail and sleet and mist! Frannie will look at different types of precipitation as well as spending some time with a peculiar way water gets from the sky to the ground, a process called deposition.

The second to last bead, green this time, is our runoff bead. Runoff is water that drains or flows off of something, like when it rains on the top of hill and the water flows quickly towards the bottom. But what happens when precipitation doesn’t land on the ground or on surface water? What happens if it a rain drop falls on a leaf on the top of a tree or a snowflake stays on your eyelashes? Frannie isn’t sure, but she’s excited to find out.

The last bead on Frannie’s bracelet is red and the last blog in this series will talk about recharge. Recharge sounds like a confusing topic, but Frannie has a helpful analogy to clear it up for you. Imagine you have a phone that is at 100% battery. That phone is like an aquifer that’s completely full. When you use the phone, the battery storage is slowly used up. Using up energy from your phone battery is similar to when groundwater is discharged from an aquifer. When the phone battery gets low, you have to refill the battery. How do you do that? You charge it! Recharge is the process that refills groundwater so that it’s there for us to use again and again.  Recharge can be done naturally, like when rain seeps and percolates through the ground below. Frannie has also heard about something called artificial recharge, so she’ll do some research on that too.

So that’s the water cycle! It’s a bit longer and more complicated than you might have originally thought, but Frannie is excited to go on this learning journey with you.

If you’re excited to learn more about the water cycle, let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!  See you next time when Frannie gets into groundwater!

Friday, April 26, 2019

BLOG: Arbor Day - Plant a Tree

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

In our home state of Nebraska, Arbor Day is a big deal. I've seen a ton about it circulating on social media and local media the past week or so. And every time I think of Arbor Day, this song from John Denver (which was created as part of a PSA for the Arbor Day Foundation) always pops into - and gets stuck in - my head:

Trees are great. They provide shade on a sunny day, help clean the air, provide us with oxygen, reduce the effects of climate change, help save energy, and more.

Turns out, trees are a big deal to our drinking water supplies. This video from the Arbor Day Foundation (which is based in Lincoln, Nebraska) explains why:

Forested watersheds contribute to drinking water for 180 million Americans and are an important part of the hydrologic cycle. 

So go hug a tree, plant a tree, marvel at a tree, sit under a tree - whatever you want to do to appreciate trees.

Friday, April 19, 2019

BLOG: Recycling Content and More for Earth Day

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Recycling is good for the planet - and for content! I looked back at the Earth Day post I wrote 10 years ago on the Groundwater Blog, and found most of it still applies today (I updated some website links for everyone's convenience). Caring for our Earth and groundwater is a never-ending job, and it's one that all of us can do.


Original post from Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Earth Day is next week (April 22). Plan to celebrate by taking these simple steps to help care for our planet:

This little light of mine…
Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFLs use 70-75% less energy than standard bulbs, and last for several years. You can also help save energy by turning off lights, computers, televisions, etc. when they are not in use. Get more information on the advantages of using CFLs.

Green it up!
Add some green to the planet by planting a tree. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that one acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen, which is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. Learn more about the benefits of trees. Or plant a rain garden and help filter out contaminants from roofs and driveways. See how a rain garden can add beauty to your home and help prevent pollution.

Park the car
Leave the car at home! Carpool, take public transportation, walk, or ride your bike to work. Find information on ways to go green in your daily commute.

Attend an Earth Day celebration
Check local newspapers, television and radio stations for event announcements, or visit to search for an event in your area.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
Try to go the entire day without throwing a single thing away (and don’t just postpone it until the next day). Use a reusable shopping bag for your grocery trip, use a tumbler instead of a disposable cup for your morning coffee, start a compost pile, and recycle plastic, aluminum, tin, steel, glass, paper, etc. Get more information about local recycling options.

Get outside and play
Enjoy all that nature has to offer! Take a walk, have a picnic, play a game, go fishing, take a hike – just get outside and interact with nature! Make sure to leave only your footprints behind.

Save a drop
Conserve water around your home. Install water-saving devices such as faucet aerators or low flow showerheads, upgrade to a low-flow toilet and water efficient appliances, and use drought-tolerant plants in your landscaping. Check out these easy water conservation tips or find out more about EPA’s WaterSense program.

Clean green
Switch to natural cleaning products. Skip the harsh chemical cleaners and opt for plant-based, natural cleansers. Find a cleaner buying guide. Or make your own cleaning products with simple ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda.

Tell a friend
Tell someone how they can help protect the planet! Share the tips above and get involved in local environmental protection efforts.

Support The Groundwater Foundation
Help support The Groundwater Foundation’s mission of educating the public to care about and for groundwater by:

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day? What steps have you taken in your daily life to help protect the planet?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Water Cycle Bangles}

Water cycle bangles have become popular accessories at recent science fairs and environmental festivals. Today, Frannie will help you make your own.

The water cycle describes all the pathways a water drop can move through the atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere (air, land, and water systems). There are many steps to the water cycle, so making a water cycle bangle will help you remember them all!

Here's what you will need:

  • A Pipe cleaner (or string, twine, strip of leather, etc.)
  • 7/8" pony beads in eight different colors (2-3 beads of each color)
  • A Water cycle illustration (there is one provided below)


  1. Review the water cycle vocabulary.  Each word represents a different stage of the water cycle.  Check out Frannie's water cycle post to get familiar with vocabulary terms.
  2. Assign each vocabulary word a different color bead.
  3. Pick a place in the water cycle illustration below to begin your journey.
  4. Twist a loop on one end of the pipe cleaner or tie a knot in the end of your string. This will prevent the beads from sliding off the end.
  5. Add a bead to your pipe cleaner and decide where to go next.  Use the water cycle illustration above to help you decide.  Remember if you start in a cloud you can't directly go to the lake, you must first become rain (or another form of precipitation: Can you name one?)
  6. Each new place traveled will earn you a new bead.
  7. After you have completed the water cycle a few times, connect the ends of your pipe cleaner to create a bangle bracelet to wear!

Frannie loves her bangle!  Now if someone asks her about it, she can share what she learned about the water cycle!

This activity is featured in the Let's Keep It Clean - "Brownie" Girl Scout Patch guide book. By completing two activities from the booklet you earn your Ask Me About Groundwater patch.  Get inspired and do more to earn your Let's Keep It Clean patch!

Friday, April 12, 2019

BLOG: Every Day is Take-Back Day in Nebraska

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Earth Day is just around the corner, but what does it have to do with old medications?

Did you know that over-the-counter and prescription medications can contaminate waterways – rivers, lakes, and groundwater – when flushed, put down the drain, or thrown in the trash? 

“It’s easy to simply toss old medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet without realizing the potential environmental impact,” said Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation Executive Director. She points out research from the U.S. Geological Survey that detected traces of medications in streams and groundwater supplies, and that “most water treatment facilities don’t have the capacity to remove these compounds.”

Instead of flushing or trashing those old medications, take them to a Nebraska MEDS Initiative pharmacy. Find a participating pharmacy near you at

“Fortunately, it’s also easy to return leftover and expired medications to MEDS Initiative Pharmacies across the state,” Griffin said. “It’s a simple step we can all take can take to protect our water resources.”

“Every day, including Earth Day, is take-back day in Nebraska,” said Marcia Mueting of the Nebraska Pharmacists Association. “Over 320 pharmacies across the state accept medications for proper disposal, giving consumers an easy and safe method of keeping medications out of the environment.” 

Mueting points out that many consumers wait until the National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, which happen in late April and October every year, to get rid of old medications. “While it’s great that these medications aren’t being flushed or put in the trash, there’s no need to hold on to them until the DEA’s take-back days,” she said. “Pharmacies across Nebraska will take back medications every single day.”

The Nebraska MEDS Initiative is funded by the Nebraska Legislature. The Nebraska Medication Education on Disposal Strategies (MEDS) Coalition educates Nebraskans about drug disposal and provides safe ways to dispose of them to better safeguard the environment and protect public health. The Coalition includes the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, Groundwater Foundation, Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Police Department, Coalition Rx, Lincoln Public School Nurses, LiveWise Coalition, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Medical Association, AARP of Nebraska, Nebraska Pharmacy Foundation, Nebraska Regional Poison Center, Safe Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County, KETV, Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and Nebraska State Patrol.

Friday, April 5, 2019

BLOG: Request a Free Well Owners Guide

Do you have a water well? Do you know someone who has a water well? If so, make sure you get a copy of the Well Owners Guide.

The Guide is a comprehensive information piece for consumers with nearly everything you could ever want to know about water wells.

Packed with detailed, easy-to-understand information, the Guide addresses:

  • Well construction
  • Well maintenance
  • Water testing
  • Water treatment
  • Groundwater protection

The guide takes consumers step-by-step through getting a well drilled, hiring a qualified groundwater professional, how wells work, following a maintenance schedule, abandoning old wells, how to get the well water tested, options for water treatment for various contaminants, and how well owners can protect groundwater.

If you want more information, check out

Contact Aaron Martin at the National Ground Water Association to request your free copy of the Well
Owners Guide today. Call 1-800-551-7379 extension 1564 or email

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Seeing an Aquifer from Space}

A few weeks ago, Frannie was excited to share with you the discovery of a groundwater system on Mars. But she wondered, what would we see if we turned the telescopes around and looked at groundwater here on Earth?

A team of scientists from the Arizona State University asked themselves the same question. Using cutting edge space technology like NASA satellites and the Global Navigation Satellite System, in combination with ground measurements, they took a look at the Central Valley Aquifer System located in central California.

The most recent drought in the San Joaquin Valley area lasted from 2012 to 2015 and made national headlines with its land subsidence, abandonment of crop-land, and receding lakes.  The scientists from ASU measured groundwater loss as well as aquifer storage loss during the drought period in order to learn about what it takes to keep an aquifer healthy.

Their findings revealed a shocking loss of groundwater each year of the drought and, even more disturbing, a permanent loss of storage capacity in the San Joaquin Valley Aquifer.

Frannie already knew why groundwater loss was important and, after a bit of research, she learned more about the importance of storage capacity and why scientists are so worried about its loss.

Image courtesy of Arizona
Department of Water Resources
Storage capacity refers to the total amount of water that an aquifer could ever possibly hold in its permeable materials, like sand or gravel. When groundwater is depleted and not recharged, the weight of the soil causes it to compress and settle into itself until it fills all of the spaces where the water used to be. When there is no more empty space for the water to fill, the compacted soil, which is now impermeable, becomes the new aquifer boundary. The aquifer, once able to hold so much water, eventually loses its ability to store the same amount of water as before.

Aquifer storage capacity loss can happen slowly and not seem like a big deal over just one or two drought periods. The real danger is when aquifer loss happens over and over again during multiple drought periods. And storage loss is not just limited to the aquifers in California.

The research team has plans to continue to study the health of aquifers in the southwest United States. They want to be able to provide water managers all over the world with the scientific knowledge they’ll need to make difficult water use decisions and ensure that clean groundwater is available to us for years to come.

Friday, March 22, 2019

BLOG: World Water Day 2019

With 1 in 9 people lacking access to safe water, World Water Day 2019 emphasizes the importance of delivering clean, safe water across the globe. What are some of the critical reasons for the lack of access to fresh water globally? What's the importance of a safe water supply? Check out the infographic below from Waterlogic.


Waterlogic provides office a variety of point-of-use water purification and dispensers for businesses.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {World Water Day 2019}

World Water Day is celebrated annually on March 22nd.  Water is essential to life and our society.  It quenches our thirst, grows our food, and even provides social and economic opportunities.

According to the United Nations, there are over 662 million people in the world today who live with little to no access to clean, safe water. By 2050, it’s predicted that 1 in 5 developing nations will face water shortage.  That’s why it’s so important to take this day to learn about water in the world. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Water for All”.

Whoever you are, water is a human right. Over 2 billion people in the world live without clean water in their homes. One in four primary or elementary schools worldwide don't have a drinking water system or service and students must use unprotected sources or face going thirsty.

Frannie talked with her family and friends about why access to safe, clean drinking water is important. Overwhelmingly, it's rural and agricultural communities that have to travel great distances to get water or pay to have pipes installed to get clean water from miles away. Many people with disabilities also face difficulty in accessing clean water.  Frannie took her Girl Scout friends on a trip down a nearby stream recently and they discovered easily water can become contaminated and unsafe to drink. Frannie's community has a very good water treatment system to clean up drinking water, but other areas aren't as lucky!

You can check out The Groundwater Foundation's website or Frannie's previous posts for fun ideas of ways you can protect and conserve groundwater for all.

World Water Day emphasizes the importance of water to every one of us.  Water is one shared resource.  We must all do our part to ensure the world's freshwater is taken care, used wisely, and is available to all of us!  Share how you will help protect water resources and be sure to tell your family and friends about protecting and conserving water every day!

Monday, March 11, 2019

BLOG: 10 Cool Things About Groundwater

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater is a unique resource, in that we can't see it. In honor of this week's National Groundwater Awareness Week, here are 10 cool things about groundwater.

  • Groundwater is the water that fills the cracks and crevices  in beds of rocks and sand beneath the earth's surface. Groundwater is recharged when water soaks into the soil from rain or other precipitation and moves downward. Groundwater is generally considered a renewable resource, although renewal rates vary greatly from place to place according to environmental conditions.
  • The aquifer in the U.S. is the Ogallala, underlying 250,000 square miles under eight states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico). Scientists guess that it could take 6000 years to naturally refill the aquifer if it were ever fully depleted.
  • There's a lot more groundwater on Earth than surface water, to the tune of 20 to 30 times more than all U.S. lakes, streams, and rivers - combined!
  • There's a lot of water on Earth, but only 1 percent of it is useable; 99 percent of that is groundwater!
  • Groundwater provides much of the flow of many streams. The USGS estimates that about 30 percent of U.S. streamflow is from groundwater (although it is higher in some locations and less in others).
  • The United States uses nearly 80 billion gallons per day of fresh groundwater for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and other purposes.
  • The temperature of shallow groundwater in the U.S. ranges from 44°F in north central areas to approximately 80°F in Florida and southern Texas.
  • Groundwater is an important part of the hydrologic cycle. When precipitation hits the ground, it can take many paths. It can be absorbed by plants; stored on the surface in a lake, river, stream, or ocean; evaporated due to the sun's energy; absorbed into the soil temporarily; or pulled by gravity through the soil to be stored for years as groundwater.
  • India has the most water wells in the world, with 21 to 25 million wells. The U.S. is second with 15.9 million wells and China has 3.4 million.
  • Irrigation accounts for the largest use of groundwater in the U.S. Over 53 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation from 407,923 wells to help feed the world.

Groundwater is truly amazing, and needs our protection. Get started today!