Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Groundwater and The Groundwater Foundation – Hidden Resources?

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater is a hidden resource, and for many years The Groundwater Foundation offices were also hidden on the second floor of a building with little signage.  While groundwater will always remain hidden, The Groundwater Foundation offices have become more visible and accessible (we moved in January).  Our new location will make it easier for us to continue our mission of helping others discover and understand the role of groundwater in their lives. 

As one of our longtime friends, we want you to come visit.  Mark your calendars and plan to attend The Groundwater Foundation Open House on Monday, May 19th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  In addition to seeing our new place, you will learn more about groundwater, what we do, the programs we run, and have the opportunity to meet our staff and Board members. 

We hope to see you!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trees and Water Quality

By Heather Voorman, The Groundwater Foundation

April 25th is National Arbor Day, so what better week to talk about why trees are so important for water quality!

Without trees and other vegetation such as shrubs and grasses, all runoff would go into streams and lakes. Runoff often carries pollutants and dissolved contaminants that can pollute surface water supplies. These pollutants include fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, nutrients and bacteria from concentrated livestock operations, oils, antifreeze, road salts, and sediment from croplands, urban construction sites and eroding stream banks. Additionally, when water runs off the land quickly instead of allowing some moisture to enter the ground, groundwater supplies cannot recharge.

Strategically planted trees can help alleviate some of the issues associated with runoff and improve water quality.  The leaves and branches of a tree can catch rainfall, slowing the movement of rain water. This allows time for the water to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater supplies.  The root growth and plant litter help this recharge process by improving the soil structure and enhancing the infiltration of rainwater.  The contaminants are also diminished during the recharge process when they are immobilized and transformed by soil microbes or taken up by the trees and other vegetation.

Image credit: acreage.unl.edu
To learn more about how to use trees to improve water quality, take a look at this brochure produced by the USDA National Agroforestry Center or contact the Agroforestry Center at 402.437.5178 ext. 4011.

Monday, April 14, 2014

DEA Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 26, 2014

by Cathy Lotzer, Board Member-The Groundwater Foundation
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is once again offering residents a chance to get rid of their unwanted/expired medications that have been piling up in their homes.  This is the eighth (8th) National Prescription Drug-Take Back Day.

On this day, collection sites throughout the country will be accepting unneeded prescription drugs, including controlled substances, for safe and legal disposal.  The DEA coordinates this program with state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, which must be present to accept controlled substances.

These Take-Back Days have been hugely successful, collecting more than 3 million pounds (1,733 tons) of prescription medications since 2010.  Properly removing these medicines from homes helps protect our communities by keeping these meds out of our water supply, and reducing accidental poising and prescription drug abuse.

Be sure to check your local community for temporary or permanent drop-off locations!

For more information on “What to do with unused medications” visit http://www.awarerx.org/get-informed/find-disposal-information.

Groundwater Guardians in Marshfield, WI have been holding these collections since May of 2006.  Their Rx Round-Up program has collected and safely disposed of over 6,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Groundwater Restoration: An Introduction to Environmental Engineering

by Amy Kessner, The Groundwater Foundation

A new Groundwater Foundation program called Groundwater Restoration: An Introduction to Environmental Engineering is bringing groundwater education to Title I Elementary Schools! During these programs, 5th grade students learn about groundwater, common sources of groundwater pollution, and how important it is to protect and conserve groundwater!

The students work in groups to complete a three-part activity:

1. Awesome Aquifers: What is Groundwater?
The program begins with an introduction to groundwater through The Groundwater Foundation’s Awesome Aquifer kits. Students create a model aquifer and learn about concepts like recharge, runoff, wells, the water table, and surface water – groundwater connections.

2. Groundwater Pollution: Common Sources of Pollution.
In the second part of the activity, students pollute their aquifers while learning about common sources of pollution. Common household items are used to represent the pollutants. For example, baking soda represents pesticides and fertilizers.

3. Groundwater Restoration: Remediating Groundwater by Designing Water Filters!
Finally, students become engineers and work together as a team to design, develop, and test their very own water filter! Students can use a myriad of items including activated carbon, cotton balls, and coffee filters in order to clean their polluted water. At the end of the activity, the difficulties of cleaning water and the importance of protecting and conserving groundwater are discussed.

This program has been made possible thanks to the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Captain Planet Foundation, and most importantly by our donors and supporters like you! Check out some photos of the students participating in the activity below. If you have any questions about Groundwater Restoration: An Introduction to Environmental Engineering or wish to learn more contact Amy Kessner at 402-434-2740 ext. 105.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What You Can Do About Climate Change

By Jane Griffin, The Groundwater Foundation

It’s April…
And that means spring is almost here – that means Earth Day is right around the corner.  Earth Day is a great day to make sure you are taking the right steps to protect our planet.  And that is no April Fool’s Day joke – recent studies demonstrate the impacts of climate change.  The bottom line is that we must take action now.  If you want to read more, here is a link to an article about a recent study:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/31/297092061/u-n-report-raises-climate-change-warning-points-to-opportunities.

Let’s each do our part and show our respect for our planet.  Here are a couple of things I will start doing:
       1.       Ride my bike to work and everywhere I feasibly (and physically) can!

2.       Make sure my children are walking or riding their bikes to and from places (no more excuses that it is too cold)

3.       Convert more areas of my yard to low-maintenance
What are you going to do?  Please share your ideas with us!  The more of us doing our part the better for the Earth that we all share!