Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guardians of the Groundwater

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater Guardian and Groundwater Guardian Green Sites are two of The Groundwater Foundation’s most prestigious programs. They, and the people that participate in them, help the Foundation deliver our mission of educating people and inspiring action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.

I always enjoy reflecting back on the past year with these programs. There are always challenges, but more often, there are triumphs. In a year where funding for the work we all do is limited, I’m amazed at the resourcefulness, innovation, and commitment of the individuals that spearhead Groundwater Guardian efforts and the groundwater-friendly practices on Green Sites.

Mostly, I like to reflect on the collective impact of the work that Groundwater Guardians and Green Sites do. Though the teams and sites that participate in the programs are as varied as can be, all are working – on their own, and all together – toward a common goal of groundwater protection and education. This is my favorite part of being involved in these programs – knowing that people in Oregon and Florida and Maryland and California and places in between are coming together, perhaps without even knowing it, to be advocates for their community’s groundwater. I hope all Groundwater Guardians and Green Sites know and understand that they are part of something larger than what happens in their town and on their site. They are part of a cooperative effort by citizens, educators, turfgrass professionals, mayors, golf course superintendents, city council members, park superintendents, utility managers, and many more to ensure that groundwater is understood and protected.

We at The Groundwater Foundation thank our Groundwater Guardian teams and Groundwater Guardian Green Sites for all that they do for groundwater.

Get your community or site involved in these programs today! Visit and click on the Groundwater Guardian or Green Site logos to learn more and see how you can be a part of this Groundwater Guardian movement!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hindsight is 20/20

by Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

While it is great to learn from history it doesn’t work so well when your mission is to protect. Protection implies proactive efforts, not clean up.

Unfortunately, remediating unintended consequences is a big part of our efforts. Look at what we are finding after decades of flushing pharmaceuticals down the drain.

Now, questions are arising regarding the procedure of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas; or fracking as it is often referred to.

What chemicals are being released that could contaminate groundwater supplies? What implications will this have on water quality and quantity?

Organizations are mobilizing to study and predict the implications. But will the demand for natural gas continue to grow at a rate that precludes adequate studies and prevention measures to be put in place?

Information about the procedure is already out there. We at The Groundwater Foundation believe that knowledge is the first tool towards protection, so take a couple of minutes to educate yourself about the procedure - make yourself aware of what is happening, because it is important to you. It’s the water you drink. It’s the water that grows your food; the water that recharges your streams and lakes.

Here are a couple of excellent resources:

If you have any further information about fracking please share it with us!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leaping into groundwater!

In October I wrote about one of my first experiences with a local middle school garden club and future plans to “LEAP in to groundwater” with these students. So what has happened since my first meeting with the students? They have learned a lot and next we will jump into the educate portion of LEAP. Here’s what we have been up to…

We have talked a lot about water in the past month! We have built groundwater models, played games about the water cycle, planted seeds in a terrarium and talked about groundwater as a part of the water cycle and as an important resource in growing plants and food. We’ve discussed water quality including impacts of the rain garden they planted at their school, water borne diseases, and turbidity. They have learned about potential groundwater contamination sources including over-applied fertilizer, improperly abandoned wells, leaking underground storage tanks, sink holes, and improperly operated landfills through constructing models and demonstrating these issues. We have also built filters and learned how difficult it can be to “clean” water.

The students brainstormed ideas on how they could take what they have learned and educate others. Some think a skit would be a fun way to spread the word about the importance of groundwater. Others want to make a video or visit the elementary school they attended to share the message with younger students. Their next step will be to decide which educate idea is the best for them and how to best move forward with their idea.
I will keep you posted on their education efforts as well as what type of groundwater stewardship/protection action they want to pursue.
If you would like to LEAP into groundwater check out the LEAP website at,

Until next time, happy LEAPing!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Clean, Safe Groundwater is a Blessing

It is that time of year again when each of us takes stock of the blessings in our lives. Each of us should count clean, ample groundwater among our many blessings.

Why is clean, ample groundwater a blessing? Well the fact that over 50 percent of Americans rely on groundwater for drinking water and that water is vital to life ought to make it a blessing. Or how about the fact that groundwater supplies much of the irrigation water used to water the crops that grow our food supply. Or that many of us depend upon groundwater to bathe ourselves, wash our dishes, and clean our homes. Each of these reasons make groundwater something we should all be thankful for and not take for granted.

Here at the Foundation we are also thankful for each of you who in some way help to protect groundwater each day. It may be that you are a member of the Groundwater Foundation to support our educational work. It may be that you are a part of a Groundwater Guardian team or are a Groundwater Guardian Green Site manager and you work towards groundwater protection every day. It may be that you are an educator that helps us spread the word about the importance of groundwater and what each of us can do to protect it. However you are involved in groundwater protection, we are thankful for your participation.

During this holiday season, help us continue our work by considering one or more of these actions:
  • If you are not a member of the Groundwater Foundation, become one now.
  • Sign up at and choose the Groundwater Foundation as your charity, and download the search toolbar to your computer. Then each time you search the internet, The Groundwater Foundation will earn money for its mission. 
  • Shop online through and a portion of each purchase will be directed towards the Groundwater Foundation. 
  • Keep protecting groundwater in your community each and every day!
Again, thanks for all you do to help protect groundwater! And, we wish you many blessings in the year ahead.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Connecting to our communities

Henry Ford said it best, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

I had the opportunity to attend and help lead an early morning coffee shop discussion during the first-ever summit of the Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) group in Grand Island a couple of weeks ago. CYN is a network of citizens under the age of 40 who live in rural Nebraska. The purpose of the network, through the University of Nebraska Rural Initiative, is to provide a forward looking organization for younger people to shape the future by sharing their knowledge, insights and desires while learning more about topics related to their personal, professional and civic growth.

The coffee shop discussion, that I helped lead with Alyssa Smola of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and Jessica Kelling of ReTree Nebraska, was about natural resources. Much of the discussion, not surprisingly, centered on water issues in the state of Nebraska. There were people from all corners of the state taking part in the discussion and they all had a great appreciation of water and understood what a precious resource it is.

Many of the questions they had and statements they made centered on what they can do to help – they weren’t just talking about problems that were out there in their communities. They want to help! It is important these young Nebraskans receive the assistance and tools they will need to face issues in their communities and that’s where environmental groups can be there to help. That is what made it great to be around such a group as CYN as there was a sense of working together to help create a bridge to the future.

The breakout sessions then centered around personal, professional and civic development from managing stress to coordinating volunteers, tips and tools for running for office to managing professional connections online. They all led to potential for growth in each individual.

But like Henry Ford’s quote, coming together is just the beginning and the end result is how you make it sustainable. That is the challenge for CYN but I believe that they are up to it in regards to all issues facing Nebraska including water and specifically groundwater. From the local Natural Resource Districts to the University of Nebraska to The Groundwater Foundation, we can all work together for the future of all Nebraska communities.

-- Brian Reetz

For more information on the group visit:

For more information on what individuals and communities can do to protect groundwater visit:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Making a Positive Impact

Diverse sites from around the country are making strides to implement groundwater and environmentally-friendly practices on their site. As part of the Groundwater Guardian Green Site application process, sites provide documentation about the impact of their activities, and the cumulative results are impressive!
Since the program began, participating Green Sites have documented:
  • A reduction in fertilizer use of 768,788 pounds. The majority of sites base fertilizer amounts on a nutrient analysis.
  • A reduction in pesticide use of 35.77%. 
  • A savings of 372,796,204 gallons of water by tracking usage, modifying practices when necessary, and choosing plants adapted to the region's climate that require lower inputs.
  • The proper disposal of potentially toxic materials, including 13,110 pounds of batteries, 13, 874 gallons of oil, 835 tires, 140 gallons of antifreeze, 33, 604 pounds of hazardous waste, and 36,047 pounds of other materials.
Sites have made changes to improve their environmental practices, including implementing recycling programs, planting native vegetation, reducing or discontinuing fertilizer usage, updating irrigation equipment, implementing water conservation initiatives, creating wildlife habitat, converting managed areas to low or no-mow areas, and instituting education programs for site staff and visitors.

We at The Groundwater Foundation are proud of the efforts of these sites, and look forward to recognizing their good work now and into the future. We know there are more sites out there doing great things for the environment – help us add to these impressive statistics by getting these sites involved in the Green Site program! Interested sites can check out the Groundwater Guardian Green Site portion of The Groundwater Foundation’s website at to find the program application, see a list of participating sites, and to find out more, or contact us at 1-800-858-4844 or

Friday, October 15, 2010

LEAP into Groundwater

Start Petition

by Jamie Oltman, The Groundwater Foundation

I recently spent some time with a group of middle school students in their garden club planting bulbs in their school’s courtyard. These students were excited about what they were doing, deciding where to plant and learning how to correctly plant the bulbs. The students were involved in measuring the precise distant between and depth of the holes, digging the holes and making sure they were covered and watered before the end of the hour the club meets. Each student was enthused about being there and participating in this project, especially that they were doing something for their school.

As we dug holes we found insects and worms. We also found various different layers in the shallow holes that were dug, soil on the top to clay as you dug a bit deeper. When someone found something interesting the rest of the group would run over to see. The students were taking it all in, they were learning yet didn’t even realize that they were. It was inspiring to spend time with these students as they learned and worked together.

I will be visiting their school in the future to help jump start their new environmental leadership club, LEAP. LEAP stands for Learn, Educate, Act and Protect. Students who participate will learn more about water and the environment through hands-on activities. Students will then take what they have learned and educate others in their school or community. Then they will act and protect, working together to complete an environmental stewardship project. Just the short time I spent with these students I am looking forward to working with them through LEAP. Stay tuned to see what happens as they LEAP into groundwater.

To learn more about LEAP visit

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CHILDREN'S HEALTH DAY - October 4, 2010

President Obama has proclaimed October 4, 2010 as Children’s Health Day! The presidential proclamation calls upon families, child health professionals, community organizations and governments to help ensure clean air, safe water and healthy communities for our nation’s children.

As a parent, our children’s health is our top priority from birth. There are many things we do every day to make sure that they live in a clean, safe environment. One of the most important things we can do to keep our children healthy is make sure the water they drink is clean and safe to drink.

Groundwater provides 51% of all the drinking water for the total population and 99% of drinking water for the rural population. Our city water departments monitor our water supply to make sure it is safe to drink. The rural population who get their water from private wells needs to have their wells tested annually to ensure the quality is safe for drinking.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking all Americans to join them this month and every month in making our communities across the country healthier places to live, learn and play for our children and future generations. See the link below for 31 tips to help keep our children healthy and safe. What other tips can you share for keeping the environment safe for our children?

Have a safe and healthy month!$File/CHM_Calendar_English_2010_508_2.pdf?Open&preview

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Youth of Desert Hot Springs, California Care about their Groundwater

Students in Mrs. Williams’ class at Bubbling Wells Elementary School won first place, the Time Warner Cable Award, in the 2010 Palm Springs Unified School District’s DigiCom Challenge in the category of “Healthy Planet, Healthy People.” All students created short videos on the importance of groundwater to their home town of Desert Hot Springs, California and then created their entry to the DigiCom Challenge. A shortened version of their award winning video can be seen on YouTube at: Check it out – they did a great job!

Desert Hot Springs, California has been a Groundwater Guardian Community since 1995. A spring Mission Creek Preserve Field Trip sponsored by the Desert Hot Springs Groundwater Guardians, Mission Springs Water District (a Groundwater Guardian Affiliate), The Wildlands Conservancy, and Palm Springs Unified School District helped educate Mrs. Williams’ students about the source of their drinking water which inspired the Bubbling Wells Elementary School video. The Desert Hot Springs City Council also publicly recognized Mrs. Williams’ and her students as part of the city’s “Treasures of Desert Hot Springs” program.

Are the youth in your community involved in groundwater protection? Tell us about it here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Groundwater in the news!

As we continue to work in communities across the state of Nebraska as part of our Let’s Keep It Clean program, we’ve had the great fortune of getting some great press coverage along the way.

Being a News-Editorial major, it’s great to see the work that the reporters have done to inform the public about our programs and protecting groundwater for future generations. The Crete News has featured us twice on its front page above the fold!

Freddie Makes a Splash at Summer Reading

Tuxedo Park Named a Green Site

It is part of our mission to inspire action! If just one person does something different in regards to groundwater by reading the article that is a definite benefit. But I firmly believe that there are many people out there that make changes to their lifestyle after reading articles either in the newspaper, in magazines or online. I am one of them!

So now you can do your part. You can email one of the above links to a friend, or maybe you can post it as a link to your facebook page or maybe tweet it. Media comes in many forms but getting to a wide range of people is the most important part.

It’s all about making even more people aware of our precious resource – groundwater.

-- Brian Reetz

Friday, September 10, 2010

Web of Life

"This we know: All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” (Excerpt from Native American Chief Seattle's Speech to President Franklin Pierce circa 1855.)

The Groundwater Foundation’s Groundwater Guardian Green Site program recognizes the stewards of environmental friendly practices towards our groundwater and our Earth. We need to enhance the “web of life” and not weaken it. Check out to learn about involving Groundwater Guardian Green Sites in your community.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Groundwater on the Gridiron

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

It’s football season once again, and fans all over the nation are getting ready for crisp autumn days, tailgates, fight songs, and touchdowns.

In honor of the upcoming season, let’s relate some football terms to groundwater and the work we do:

Pre-game warm up: The planning done by communities prior to implementing a wellhead protection plan or other groundwater protection effort.

Coaching: The leadership of community stakeholders to make groundwater protection and education a priority, and the education efforts to help people understand the value of groundwater.

Offense: Being proactive about groundwater protection and education, rather than waiting for a problem.

Defense: Putting protection measures in place to ensure our groundwater is protected from potential contamination threats.

Interception: When a protective measure does its job and prevents a contamination event from occurring.

Triple option: The numerous choices we have when it comes to protecting our groundwater.

First down: An important step in moving towards sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.

Touchdown: The “aha” moment when someone understands how important groundwater is to their everyday lives and to the future.

Victory: A world with sustainable, clean groundwater where everyone understands how it impacts their life and acts responsibly and responsively on its behalf.

This season, we can all work towards Guarding Our Beneficial, Important Groundwater Resources Every Day!

Monday, August 23, 2010

ABCs of Groundwater

by Jamie Oltman, The Groundwater Foundation

This past week was the first day of school for many students. All the discussion of the first day and week of classes inspired me to make my own back to school list. Here is my ABC’s of Groundwater:

A – Aquifer…Stores our groundwater resources.

B – Best Management Practices…Used to reduce and prevent water contamination.

C – Conservation…Water-saving methods to reduce the amount of water needed for homes, lawns, farming, and industry, and thus increasing water supplies for optimum long-term economic and social benefits.

D – Drinking Water…51% of the people in the United States rely on groundwater as their drinking water source.

E – Education…"We will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught." Bab Dioum

F – Fresh water…Less than one percent of the world’s fresh water is available for human use. The majority of this is stored as groundwater.

G – Green Site…A green space where practices are implemented to reduce and prevent groundwater contamination. See what sites have been recognized at

H – Hydrogeology…The study of geologic materials and the processes of water, especially groundwater.

I – Irrigate…wisely. Make sure to water your lawn in the coolest part of the day and only as needed.

J – Jug of water…Keep one in the fridge for a refreshing cool drink.

K – Kids…are an important reason to make sure we have a clean and plentiful supply of groundwater.

L – Leaders…Talk with your local leaders about water related policy and action in your community.

M – Municipal Water Supply…Provides water to the public (homes, school, churches, businesses, etc.).

N – Nonpoint source…Pollution discharged over a wide land area, not from one specific location.

O – Off…Turn off the water when brushing your teeth to reduce the amount of water used.

P – People…"It is because of people we protect groundwater, but it is only through people that we can do so."

Q – Questions…about groundwater? Check out some fun activities to help you learn more at

R – Recharge…Water added to an aquifer.  The opposite, an outflow of water, is called discharge.

S – Source water…Water from streams, rivers, lakes, or aquifers that is used to provide drinking water for human consumption.

T – Toolkit…Let’s keep it clean! Check out the community toolkit at 

U – Under the direct influence (UDI)…of surface water, is groundwater located close enough to a river or lake to receive direct surface water recharge.

V – Vadose zone…or the unsaturated zone is the area directly below the surface where air and water fill the pore spaces.

W – Well…Drinking water from a private well should be tested on an annual basis to make sure it’s healthy for consumption. Check out the wellcare Well Owners Network at

X – Xeriscaping…Landscaping that uses a variety of indigenous and drought-tolerant plants, shrubs, and ground cover.

Y – You…can make a difference! Learn what you can do at

Z – Zzzzs…Following the ABC’s of groundwater and you will sleep well knowing groundwater supplies are clean and plentiful for future generations.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) will launch its first annual Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 14, 2010. This day will focus on preventing contamination and water conservation as ways to protect groundwater resources.

To be able to prevent contamination you need to be aware of common contamination sources in your household such as cleaning products, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, etc. and learn how to dispose of them properly. Proactive protection efforts are much more cost-effective than clean-up efforts. Here is what you can do:

Dispose of potential pollutants properly:
• Do not pour chemicals down the drain or on the ground, take to hazardous waste collection
• Take used motor oil to a recycling center
• Do not flush medications or personal care items down the toilet, mix with   coffee grounds and put in trash

To be a responsible water steward, here are a few simple things you can do every day:

• Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed
• Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator
• Shut off the water while brushing your teeth
• Take shorter showers
• Run full load of dishes and laundry
• Water lawn and plants only as needed
• Install rain barrels

Make September 14, 2010 a day to remember—the day you took charge of protecting and conserving our precious resource—groundwater!

What will you do to protect and conserve groundwater today and every day?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rain Barrels - One Solution to Decrease Storm Water Runoff

The dog days of summer are definitely upon us and as such I find myself out in the yard watering flowers nearly every day. And I really wish I would have invested in a rain barrel this spring as I had planned. Rain barrels collect the rain water that falls on your home’s roof and stores it for use at a later time. Can you believe that most homeowners can save about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months? Of course, not only could I be saving money by having a rain barrel, but it would be much more convenient since I have a downspout just a few feet from the flowerbed.

And, along with the money savings and convenience, I would be doing my part to help protect the environment. Not only do rain barrels reuse water thereby conserving it, they also divert storm water from storm sewers, lakes, and streams which will prevent any potential pollutants the water may have picked up from making its way to these water bodies.

It really is clear that I need to stop procrastinating and just get a rain barrel now. You can find many options for purchasing your rain barrel on the internet and for those of you in Lincoln, Nebraska I just learned that HyVee and Coca-Cola have partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster County and have rain barrels available at local HyVee stores.

Make a difference today! Why wait? Let us know what you do to help protect water resources.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maryland Green Sites get media attention

Nine golf courses in Maryland recently became designated as Groundwater Guardian Green Sites.  These courses, all owned and operated by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority (MCRA), include Falls Road Golf Course, Potomac; Hampshire Greens Golf Course, Silver Spring; Laytonsville Golf Course, Gaithersburg; Little Bennett Golf Course, Clarksburg; Needwood Golf Course, Clarksburg; Northwest Golf Course, Silver Spring; Poolesville Golf Course, Poolesville; Rattlewood Golf Course, Frederick; and Sligo Creek Golf Course, Silver Spring.

The courses have been getting media attention for their efforts, thanks to the work of Jon Lobenstine, director of agronomy for all nine MCRA courses.

Check out the article in the July 2010 issue of Golfdom magazine:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Make a Splash Read with Freddie

As the kids would filter into the room for the summer reading program in select cities across the state of Nebraska, it was fun to see the looks on their faces as they sized up Freddie the Fish. With “Make a Splash Read!”, the theme of the libraries this year, it gave The Groundwater Foundation a perfect opportunity to spend some time working with kids at a program and sharing the protection message.

They would see Freddie hanging out in his fish bowl filled with water and ask, “Is he real?” I would always say, “No, but you will soon find out why.” We use Freddie to show how if we aren’t careful our water can become contaminated with different items. We use Kool-Aid and cereal and other items to represent those contaminants and show just how easily it can happen. The kids really form a bond with Freddie and make it an enjoyable adventure.

We also worked with each of them on making a water cycle bracelet that shows each part of the water cycle, represented by a different color of bead. We teach them about how it moves through the cycle and how each part is very important.

Over 1,000 kids took part in the 12 events in the towns of Wayne, Crete, Minden and Lincoln as part of the Let’s Keep It Clean! program, sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, The Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Water Systems Council.

We hope that each year we can tie the work of The Groundwater Foundation into the learning that takes place during the summer reading programs at our local libraries.

--Brian Reetz

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: What Can We Learn From It?

Information about the Gulf oil spill has inundated the news for weeks now. Efforts to stop the massive amounts of oil from polluting our oceans, coastlines and wetlands have been met with more challenges than solutions. Pictures of oil soaked pelicans, ravaged beaches, negative impacts to sea turtles, dolphins, and other mammals, in addition to economic impacts of fishing being halted, slowed tourism, and the impending costs of clean up are just some of the copious issues that are a direct outcome of this catastrophe.

There is a lot of time, work, and money that will be needed to clean up this current environmental crisis. But for me, the bigger question is “How do we prevent this from happening again?” There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that prevention of such events as this would have been much cheaper than the costs we have seen to life, to the environment, and to the economy.

This is just one of the many potential environmental challenges that we may face in the years to come. What will happen if an oil pipeline across a major aquifer leaks? What about all the chemicals that we use every day? Will they end up in our water supply, kill species of animals, alter the circle of life?

We need to address these issues now before they become catastrophic accidents that leave us scrambling for answers. We are all in a position to make a difference, just by altering our own lifestyles and habits. In addition, we can pay attention to the potential risks in our communities and areas, become involved in the local decisions being made concerning our world, and most of all speak up and act upon behalf of our environment and our water resources. It’s been said before but bears repeating – We only have one Earth, one planet on which we can survive – we must be a part of protecting it for the future.

Share your thoughts on what needs to happen to prevent these types of environmental catastrophes in the future.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Traveling the state for Green Site program

During the month of May, I chartered a course to visit as many green sites as possible across the state to encourage them to become involved in our Groundwater Guardian Green Sites program. In my mind, a green site is a site that has highly-managed green space. I know that term can be open to interpretation but that gets the discussion going. We have green sites in the program that are golf courses, college campuses, city and state parks and the list goes on.

My trips started with a visit to the southeastern corner including Humboldt and then to a recent addition to the program, the Friend Country Club (bottom photo). It then led me up to northeast Nebraska including Norfolk, Madison, Columbus and moving over a bit to the middle including Atkinson, Ord and St. Paul. The big trip took me to the western part of the state last week including going through Kearney, Gothenburg and Bridgeport before visiting with people in Scottsbluff and then making my way back through Sidney and Overton.

Many of the visits I had were with people at the golf courses and it was great to hear many of the current practices that they have in place and the many things that are looking to do in the future in regards to both water and fertilizer usage.

Be sure to learn more about our Green Site program and how your green site can become involved in the program as well by clicking on this link:

We recently added video testimonials from a couple of the top courses in the state, Wild Horse (top photo) and Bayside (second photo), who are both currently a part of the program. Click on this link to hear from them and others:

--Brian Reetz

Friday, May 14, 2010

Celebrating 25 years!

The Groundwater Foundation is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, and will have special events throughout 2010 to mark the years of groundwater education and protection. On Monday, May 17, staff members, board members, and friends of the Foundation will gather for a celebratory dinner to honor the anniversary. A web page is currently in development which will recount milestones from the past 25 years, and the summer issue of The Aquifer will feature a “look back” at the evolution of the organization.

We hope you will join us in celebrating 25 years of educating people and inspiring action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations. You can help ensure the Foundation goes on for another 25 years by becoming a member, involving your community in the Groundwater Guardian program, getting sites involved in the Groundwater Guardian Green Site program, and much more. Visit our website at for ideas and ways you can be a part of the next 25 years!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Water for Food

This weekend the 2nd annual Water for Food International conference opened. The challenge is a huge one, but luckily for all of us there are people who are motivated by the challenge and there are forward-thinking philanthropists who recognize the importance and the scope of this issue.

The conference will surely have a very positive feel to it – as it should. It opens just days after the 2nd largest gift to the University of Nebraska has been announced. The Daugherty Foundation has pledged $50 million towards the Water for Food Institute.

These ingredients, plus the extensive work that the state, the University, governmental and non-governmental agencies have done towards understanding and protecting our water resources in order to meet the needs of today and tomorrow, are bound to make for an exciting conference.

The challenges are great, but are they any greater than some of the difficulties that have been overcome in the past?

Let’s see what all the people gathering from different corners of the globe believe.

Share your thoughts – and look back for updates as the conference progresses.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Learning About Groundwater

The eager participants hands were raised, they wanted to learn more, ask questions, offer their own comments, and be a part of the conversation.

This past month I have participated in various youth education and outreach events. Meeting with school groups and presenting hands-on activities to help them better understand groundwater. I typically start off my discussions by asking the students to tell me about groundwater, at least one student will blurt out, “It’s water in the ground!” Then I ask the class to tell me more about this water in the ground, such as what we use if for and what might be potential causes for groundwater contamination. Our conversation becomes an exchange of questions and answers, a brief lesson prepping them for an activity. “The water turned green!” the group exclaims, as they realize the water in their model has just became contaminated.

I also had the opportunity, this past month to attend the National Ground Water Association Summit/Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting in Denver, Colorado. At the Summit I heard many great presentations about new research, technological advances, and experiences from the field. Computer models demonstrating groundwater quality and quantity issues and the potential solutions to these problems as well as images, maps, and charts from research studies were shared. The exchange of questions and answers following the presentations was extended into conversations held during breaks and meals. Plans for future projects buzzed about as new ideas were shared.

Two very different audiences, two very different situations yet there is commonality. From the question, “What is an aquifer?” and building a model out of a clear plastic box filled with gravel to the question “What can geophysical signatures of complex subsurface processes tell us?” and an explanation demonstrated through computer modeling, groundwater is the common topic, learning is the common theme.

Have you recently learned something new related to groundwater? Or maybe shared something about groundwater with others? Share your recent groundwater conversation topics, no matter how simple or complex, let’s see what we’ve all been talking about!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Earth Day will be celebrated around the world on Thursday, April 22. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but only 2.5% is freshwater. With so little water available to use for our daily needs, we need to do our part in protecting and conserving this precious resource. Here are just a few things you can do to be a good water steward:

1) Take short showers instead of baths

2) Run full loads of dishes and laundry

3) Water outside only when necessary

4) Check for leaky faucets and repair them

5) Limit amounts of fertilizer

6) Dispose of chemicals properly

7) Teach others about ways to protect and preserve water

Celebrate Earth Day each and every day by doing your part! How will you celebrate the day?

Monday, April 12, 2010


I recently received an email touting a segment on The Daily Show that the sender felt I should watch. So I took a few minutes and ran the short video. The video stars Robert Glennon, author of Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It. Glennon is also the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy in the Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

Glennon’s book, as titled, shares the many water challenges and potential crises that face our country. Some of which are mentioned in the interview with Jon Stewart. Of course, Stewart adds a bit of humor to the topic and with some luck may have brought interest to a topic that many times is taken for granted.

Take a peek at this segment at Let me know your thoughts. Is humor what we need to get water messages to the public? Or does it make light of an issue that is in need of human action?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Green Sites calling all golfers

Warmer weather in Nebraska makes me think of a few things but one of them highest on my list is venturing into the storage spot in my fairly messy garage and pulling out my golf clubs. I know they aren’t in the best of shape. I know I need a new bag. I know I need some new shoes. Maybe someday. And let’s not even talk about my pathetic swing. But none of that is going to stop me from enjoying such a great activity.

It’s great getting out and about, especially after the rough, cold winter that we had in the Cornhusker State, and enjoying a golf course.

I’ve gotten a new appreciation for them since I started as a program coordinator at The Groundwater Foundation nearly a year ago. We have a program called Groundwater Guardian Green Sites that recognizes good stewards of groundwater. Many of them are golf courses across the state and the country. I’ve had the great opportunity to sit down with some of the superintendents and PGA professionals one-on-one and talk about the practices they have implemented. I have shared some new ideas that we have heard about that will improve their practices too.

The program is continuing to grow every day. In 2007, there were just a few pilot sites and now I feel like I can venture across the state and the country and find one. I plan on doing that this Spring as well as finding more courses to become part of such a great recognition program.

You can find more about the program on our website:

-- Brian Reetz

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fix a Leak Week

Last week was National Groundwater Awareness Week, and in continuing with the water week theme, this week Americans are encouraged to Fix a Leak. 

According to U.S. EPA, household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year—that's equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined—and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.  Fixing leaks in your home will help save money on your water bill, and more importantly, save water for future generations.

To check for leaks, examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.  Or you can check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.

So check your faucets, toilets, showerheads, and hoses for leaks this week:
  • Check the washers and gaskets on your faucets and showerheads for wear and replace them if necessary.  A faucet leaking at just one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year, and a showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year.  Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • Place a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank and check the bowl for color after a few minutes or before flushing.  If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons or more of water every day.  If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It's usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • Landscape irrigation systems should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.  An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
In many cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers or a trusted professional plumber.

For more information on events going on to promote Fix a Leak Week, visit

For more information on U.S. EPA's WaterSense program, including tips, rebates, water use calculators, quizzes, and more, visit


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let's Keep It Clean launches

Not only is it Groundwater Awareness Weeek, but we at The Groundwater Foundation are also excited to announce the launching of a new campaign, “Let’s Keep It Clean!” The goal of the campaign is to empower people to play a key part in protecting their groundwater. The main objectives are to create awareness and understanding of the vital resource and provide tools for individual communities to take proactive steps to ensure a safe, lasting supply.

One of our most precious is our groundwater - it’s the water we drink, the water that grows our food. Each of us relies on it and it relies on us so let’s keep it clean.

Thanks to our media sponsors here in Nebraska, the home of The Groundwater Foundation, radio and television ads will be running reminding people of the important resource. In addition The Groundwater Foundation staff will be working within communities all across Nebraska. The Groundwater Foundation will help communities put a plan into action by meeting with local leaders. It will generate awareness and inspire action in the communities by participation in city-wide events and presentations to local businesses.

If you don’t live in Nebraska, access to the ads and many more tools are available on our website,  Just click on the Let’s Keep It Clean button.

While visiting the page you can make your pledge to protect groundwater, remembering that individually we act, collectively we make a difference.

Please let us know what you and/or your community are doing!

A special thank you to our Let’s Keep It Clean sponsors: the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Water Systems Council.

Cheers to clean groundwater for generations to come!

Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Groundwater Awareness Week!

by Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

Happy National Groundwater Awareness Week!

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has proclaimed this week, March 7-13, 2010, as Groundwater Awareness Week in Nebraska in recognition of the nationwide significance of our work here at The Groundwater Foundation and the vital need to protect groundwater in Nebraska. 

Groundwater is the water that fills the cracks, voids and other openings in the soil, sand and bedrock. It’s the water we drink – over 85% of Nebraskans rely on groundwater for their drinking water. It’s the water that grows our crops – groundwater is the major source of irrigation. 

Groundwater is a hidden resource that many of us take for granted - instead of taking it for granted, it is a resource that we must recognize for the vital role it plays in our lives and ensure that a safe, clean supply will be available for our children and grandchildren.

This week is also National Groundwater Awareness Week, so it is a perfect time for the Governor to make his proclamation and for The Groundwater Foundation to launch its new campaign, “Let’s Keep It Clean!” The goal of the campaign is to empower the people of Nebraska to play a key part in protecting their groundwater. The main objectives of the campaign are to create awareness and understanding of the vital resource and provide tools for individual communities to take proactive steps to ensure a safe, lasting supply.

Here are a few tips to get you started:
  • Not sure what to do with hazardous substances? Contact local waste authorities about proper disposal of hazardous substances such as pesticides/herbicides, antifreeze, fertilizer, paint/paint thinner, oil and chemicals.
  • Use the recommended amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
  • If you own a water well, have your water tested annually. Also test if there is a change in the odor, taste or smell.
  • If you own a septic tank, have it cleaned and serviced regularly to prevent a breakdown that could pollute your groundwater.

For more information about how you can get involved, visit and click on the Let’s Keep It Clean button.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Price of Water Vs. Conservation

When your water bill comes in the mail do you look at it in shock and say, “I better cut back on how much water I’m using so my bill will be lower next time.” I know that’s not the case with me. Because water is priced so reasonably we don’t think about conserving it like we should. On the other hand, as an owner of rental property, I do watch the water bills to look for spikes that might indicate a leaky toilet, faucet or misuse by tenants. To help keep our water bill reasonable, we install low-flow shower heads in all of our units and do inspections to check faucets/toilets on a regular basis.

Even though water is so reasonably priced, that doesn’t mean we should abuse it and not conserve it. Take time to do some of these simple things to save this precious resource. What do you do to conserve water?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Remembering a Groundwater Hero

by Cindy Kreifels, Groundwater Foundation Executive Vice President

Today I learned that the world has lost a hero, a groundwater hero that is. Vernon Haverstick, 91, of El Paso, Texas passed away on February 11, 2010. I had the pleasure of meeting Vern and his wife Ann many years ago because of the great work has done on behalf of groundwater.

Vern became involved in groundwater protection in 1989 by participating in the El Paso Wellhead Protection Project. Vern learned of the project through the El Paso Retired Senior Volunteer Program and took the initiative to assist in recruiting 23 citizen volunteers to conduct a potential contaminant source inventory around El Paso’s 144 public water supply wells. Vern helped to write a “how-to” manual describing the methods utilized which the EPA has distributed in many states throughout the country and has been translated into several languages and distributed in other countries. The methodology, techniques, and inventory forms developed by Vern and his team of volunteers to conduct comprehensive groundwater protection inventories have been utilized by communities throughout the nation. Vern and his team of volunteers also inventoried drinking water supplies and septic tank systems in the colonias throughout El Paso County, and he served as a mentor for many students participating in a bi-national groundwater protection project.

Vern was a perfect example of the action that could and should be taken locally to help protect groundwater resources. In 1996, The Groundwater Foundation had the honor to recognize Vern Haverstick for his achievements. Today, we do the same. Vern was a true friend to groundwater, the kind every community needs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whose Responsibility Is It?

President’s Day will be celebrated on Monday, February 15, 2010. As we celebrate this day, most will be glad that it’s a holiday and hence they don’t have to get up and go to work.

Yet what is the true purpose of President’s Day? To commemorate the good our nation’s leaders have done?

Nearly from the beginning of this country, water has been an issue worth the consideration of our leaders. Much has been accomplished to protect and conserve our water resources since the founding of our country. Some notable accomplishments include:

• Creation of:
        - The Army Corp of Engineers
        - The US Bureau of Reclamation
        - The Inland Waterways Commission
        - The Tennessee Valley Authority
        - Soil and water conservation division of US Department of Ag
        - The Senate Select Committee on Water Resources
        - Earth Day
        - The US Environmental Protection Agency

• Authorization of:
        - The Reclamation Act
        - The Water Pollution Control Act
        - The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act
        - The Clean Water Act
        - Safe Drinking Water Act
        - The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
        - Superfund legislation
        - Public Health Security, Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response Act

The leaders of our country have indeed worked towards the protection and conservation of our water resources. But should that burden fall solely on their shoulders? Should we depend upon the lawmakers to protect a resource that is so vitally important to everyone’s life and livelihood? Shouldn’t we as citizens of this country and those who depend upon water for life take responsibility towards its protection as well?

Share what you and/or your community are doing to help protect groundwater. Give others inspiration to do the same.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super 'bowl' Game

I don’t know about you, but this year’s Super Bowl couldn’t be a better matchup in my mind.
On the one hand, you have the Indianapolis Colts. Led by one of the greatest quarterbacks and game-day managers in the history of the National Football League (Peyton Manning), they have a been-there, done-that kind of attitude that permeates throughout the team.
On the other hand, you have my favorite team in the NFL -- the New Orleans Saints. People used to go to their games and put bags over their heads because the team was so terrible. But with the help of Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, the Saints have brought a sense of rejuvenation to the entire city especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

So what does water have to do with the Super Bowl? Denver Business Journal writer Cathy Proctor grabbed my interest when she mentioned the other “bowl” in her blog column this week. Of course, I’m talking about the toilet bowl. Legend says that during halftime of the Super Bowl toilets will be flushed 90 million times! I’m guessing that is an urban legend but even if that number is cut in half that is still a lot of flushing.

According to the Nebraska Lower Platte North Natural Resource District, the most common source of leaks is the toilet. To check your toilet for leaks, put a few drops of food dye in the tank and wait 15 minutes. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak that should be repaired. Leaky toilets can usually be repaired inexpensively by replacing the flapper or adjusting the water level. According to Proctor, toilets produced prior to 1994 used 3.5 gallons to 7 gallons per flush. Since 1994, federal law has required all newly manufactured toilets to use 1.6 gallons or less per flush. So maybe a new toilet before the Super Bowl game is another option to help conserve our precious resource.

Oh and my pick for the big game – the Saints.

Brian Reetz
Program Coordinator

Friday, January 29, 2010

Green Sites Make a Difference!

The Groundwater Foundation knew the Groundwater Guardian Green Sites program had the potential to make a huge environmental impact. The numbers tabulated by the program show the positive impact on the future of sustainable groundwater. Groundwater Guardian Green Sites is a Groundwater Foundation program that educates and encourages managers of highly managed green spaces to implement groundwater friendly practices.

Thank you Green Sites! You are making a beneficial difference for groundwater by implementing groundwater-friendly practices on your sites. Here’s your environmental impact through 12/31/09:

Reduction in fertilizer use: 729,200 pounds
Reduction in pesticide use: 36.5%
Gallons of water saved: 330,517,895 gallons

Proper disposal of toxics:
  • Batteries: 809 (plus 13,105 pounds)
  • Oil: 4,197 gallons (plus 6,400 pounds of oil/water mix)
  • Tires: 369
  • Antifreeze: 65 gallons
  • Other: 46,315 pounds
If you know of a green space that would be a candidate for the Green Site program, please contact us at or call 1-800-858-4844.  More information about the program can be found on the Green Site section of The Groundwater Foundation's website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crisis in Haiti Shows the Importance of Drinking Water

Last week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti once again illustrated the importance of water following a disaster. ABC’s World News Tonight on Tuesday, January 19 ( reported that water is in short supply all over the capital city of Port-au-Prince. In some cases, those with access to well water were charging people to use the water and had no guarantees that the water was even safe to drink; others waited in line for hours for access to a functioning pump or for bottled water. It made me think back to the hurricanes of 2005, namely Hurricane Katrina, when floodwaters polluted drinking water supplies and created a dangerous shortage. Unlike a hurricane, an earthquake arrives without warning, and is an unpredictable kind of natural disaster, making planning for a response more challenging. The outpouring of support and aid from all over the world has been outstanding; but now comes the challenge of ensuring all those affected are receiving the basic necessities of food and water. It will be interesting to see as time goes on how Haiti’s infrastructure, including drinking water, is rebuilt and if contingencies for a disaster of this magnitude are put into place.

If we can take anything from this tragic event, I hope it’s to truly appreciate the luxury we have of going to the tap and filling a glass with clean, fresh water; a luxury that is all to often taken for granted.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cheers to 2010 and a new mission!

by Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

Many comments have been made about the New Year and the new decade, so I believe it is my job to point out yet another important milestone that 2010 brings - the 25th anniversary of The Groundwater Foundation.

In order to prepare for this important milestone The Groundwater Foundation Board of Directors and staff dedicated long and hard hours analyzing and evaluating our impact and our role today and for the next 25 years.  Instead of boring you with the details of the work, I am going to limit myself to sharing with you only the exciting results.

The Groundwater Foundation has adopted a new mission statement that we believe more effectively identifies our purpose:

We educate people and inspire action to ensure sustainable,
clean groundwater for future generations.

The Groundwater Foundation has identified strategic programming goals that will move us towards achieving our mission. Details about our new program, updates on impact of our current programs and more will be posted to our website soon…check back to often to see what is happening in your community and across the nation at

Water is, and will continue to be, vital to our existence; as such, on behalf of all of us at The Groundwater Foundation, I affirm our dedication to educating people and inspiring action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.

Now, let’s pour ourselves a glass of groundwater (which means that one out of every two Americans only needs to go to their tap) and say “Cheers to 2010!”  Yes, 2010 is the year for our organization and the people and communities we serve to celebrate 25 of education, and looking forward to 25 more years of mission delivery!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Groundwater's Important to Our Town

I realize Christmas is past, but this little ditty is timeless. Check it out! Better yet, add a verse or two.

Groundwater's Important to Our Town
(set to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming to Town)

Oh, You better take care,
You better not pollute,
You better not waste it,
I'm telling you why:

Groundwater's important to our town!

It's what we drink,
It grows our crops,
It needs to be protected,
It's vital for life.

Groundwater's important to our town!

It's there when you are thirsty,
It bathes you when you wake.
It waters your lawn and washes your clothes,
So protect it for goodness sake!

Groundwater's important to our town!

It's what we drink,
It grows our crops,
It needs to be protected,
It's vital for life.

Groundwater's important to our town!