Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Program Manager

It's hot.  The forecast calls for 103 in Lincoln, and we're in a heat advisory due to heat indices near 110.  I feel sorry for the guys shingling my neighbor's roof today.

However, the heat wave here is nothing compared to the heat and low humidity helping to fuel the wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.  There are at least 19 wildfires burning in the western U.S. today, with little relief in sight, and little containment of the raging flames.  

Conversely, parts of Florida are swimming in more than 20 inches of rain dropped by Tropical Storm Debby, resulting in flooding, high winds, and even tornadoes.

Disparity like this makes me think about the "haves" and "have nots" in terms of water supply.  They need the water to fight the fires in the west; they have more than they want or need in the southeast.  Parts of the world have an abundant, clean supply of water at their fingertips.  I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where I can turn on the tap and safe, drinkable water comes out.  Other parts don't have the water availability and/or infrastructure for this luxury.

I know I can't put out the fires or bring the necessary infrastructure to those that need it simply by conserving water, but I know my efforts certainly can't hurt.  As we enter the hot, dry summer months, we should all be cognizant of our water supplies, and be responsible in its use.  Even if water conservation isn't mandated or even encouraged, it's still a good idea to shut off the tap when you brush your teeth, check faucets and fixtures for leaks and have them repaired, skip watering our lawns or just water our lawns in the morning or evening rather than the middle of the day, reusing rainwater to irrigate plants, and being proactive in water conservation.

Get more water conservation tips here and here and here.

What are you doing in your homes this summer to help conserve water?  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome Summer!

Summertime in my home is synonymous with backyard bar-b-ques!
Relax on the patio, heat up the grill, throw on some sweet corn and burgers, and invite over some friends. What can be better? At my house, a nice cool beverage, beer being the popular choice, also accompanies the feast!
Have you ever thought about your favorite beer and the water used to create it? Water is used in brewing beer and also plays a role in the unique taste of the local brew. I recently came across this article which explains more about this essential beer ingredient, water!

The next time I crack open a cool one, I’ll think about the importance of keeping our water resources clean and plentiful.

Let’s keep it clean!
Cheers to that!

Some other bar-b-que fun facts:
It takes 4,000+ gallons of water to produce a hamburger.
It takes over 100 gallons of water to grow an ear of corn.
Find out how much water it takes to produce one egg, an orange and other products here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

International Children's Groundwater Summit: Were You There?

In 1998, in celebration of its 10th year of groundwater festivals, The Groundwater Foundation held a unique and most interesting event, the International Children’s Groundwater Summit.  Twenty-six children from around the world came to Grand Island, Nebraska to learn about groundwater.  The youth participated in hands-on education and made recommendations about groundwater and its relationship to global climate change, children’s health and wildlife.  The declaration these youth prepared as a part of their experiences is stated below.

But why you might ask am I writing about this now almost 14 years later?  Because last week while we were all going about our daily work here at the Foundation, one of the students who participated in the 1998 International Children’s Groundwater Summit contacted me and is very interested in locating the other youth who participated in the Summit.  She wrote:

“My name is Alaina and I was one of the attendees to the International Children's Groundwater Summit in 1998.  I have been trying for a number of years to locate those who were involved in that event as it and they impacted who I am today.  I wanted to inquire if anyone else has tried to contact you or your organization about the event.  I would also appreciate any information you could send me about the summit.  I wish I could go back to my 12-year-old self and let her know that the summit would be something to influence many of my life choices.  Maybe then I would have maintained contact with my fellow attendees.”

So if you participated in the 1998 Summit or know someone who did, please let us know as we would love to re-connect these youth who spent several days together and prepared a declaration that each of us should consider as we go about our daily routines.

International Children’s Groundwater Summit Declaration

WE the children representing the countries of the world, who have attended the 1998 International Children’s Groundwater Summit in Grand Island, Nebraska, from March 21-23, recalling the speakers, activities and the discussions on the environmental issues of all the countries of the world, considering the importance of groundwater and its importance to all people of all nations;

REQUEST that the people of the world all work together to solve the problems of groundwater, uniting as a community and not considering our differences; considering also that diseases are carried in contaminated water (surface and ground) and that children who have lower immune systems can drink the water and acquire health problems;

INVITE you all to take this issue into your heart and think about all the children that are suffering from water-related diseases; considering also that habitat for wild creatures is disappearing because of people’s needs for water and land;

REQUEST that the people of the world protect these wild places where wild animals and plants live, by making laws and by everyone respecting the laws and doing their part to keep water clean; considering also that the average global temperature is rising, this will result in the melting of polar ice caps that will cause sea levels to rise, resulting in flooding of low lying areas; considering further that increased global temperatures will also cause more frequent and severe droughts with less groundwater recharge affecting food production and water supply;

REQUEST that the people of the world recognize these issues and immediately take steps to reduce energy consumption and slow down the “greenhouse effect.”  By revolutionizing our prevention methods and power sources, we can prevent global warming and preserve this wonderful place we live in.

RECOMMEND that all the leaders of all the nations of all the world consider our recommendations and take them seriously as a major concern for the future of the world and its children.