Thursday, March 31, 2016

Technology to Create Future Leaders

by Anthony Lowndes, The Groundwater Foundation

Technology is nearly impossible to avoid. It is in our cars, homes and hands. It is also found in most sectors of the water industry for data collection and analysis, information distribution and overall ensuring the safe delivery of drinking water to communities. With jobs in the water industry expected to turn over at high rates in the near future, the need to inform and prepare students for these positions is vital. This is one of the reasons The Groundwater Foundation strives to incorporate technology into its educational resources as much as possible.

For example, the 30by30 app provides an interactive way track personal water use and the Water1der app challenges your water IQ through trivia and games. The use of technology was taken a step further by incorporating computer groundwater flow modeling into a Science Olympiad event. The event, called Hydrogeology, requires a thorough knowledge of the principles of groundwater and challenges competitors to apply the results calculated in the computer model to realistic groundwater contamination remediation situations.
After two years as a trial event, Hydrogeology was accepted as a full event for high school students following the 2015 National Tournament. Use of the computer model in Science Olympiad has carried groundwater education to over 4000 students in 27 different states. With several regional and state level tournaments using Hydrogeology in April and the National Tournament in May, the number will continue to grow.

Over half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater for drinking water. The Groundwater Foundation continues to strive in building the leaders of tomorrow through engaging activities that incorporate the use of technology, such as the Hydrogeology Challenge, and help prepare students for careers in the water industry.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Water Reuse and Beer?

by Lori Davison, The Groundwater Foundation
If you are not familiar with the term water reuse, it is just what it says—basically recycling treated wastewater to use in agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial processes, and refilling groundwater basins.  Wastewater treatments can be adjusted for the different ways you are going to use the reused water.  Water recycling is nothing new--through the natural water cycle, the earth has recycled and reused water for millions of years.  Recycled water has many benefits including that it can help with the world’s growing water demands as long as it is treated properly.  Other benefits are reducing or preventing pollution and being used to create wetlands and habitats.
Reused water is most commonly used for non-drinking purposes.  Examples are agriculture, landscaping, public parks, golf course irrigation, cooling water for power plants, and toilet flushing.  But, reused water can be used for other things.  A California brewing company is making beer out of recycled water!  To do this they used the same technology that was used by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to make coffee from his sweat and urine while on the International Space Station.  The brewery used a tasting panel to test the beer, but the panel could not detect the difference between a version of this beer made with recycled water and the normal version of the beer.  The beer is not available for sale yet.
Water recycling is a promising innovation to help increase our usable water supply.  What are your thoughts about using recycled water? Would you be open to drinking products made from recycled water? 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cancer Treatments: What are the Side Effects for the Environment?

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

I was deeply touched when I received an email from a woman going through cancer treatment who expressed her concern about the impact of the chemotherapy drugs on groundwater and the environment.  The writer pointed out, the excretion from a person’s body after a chemotherapy treatment must result in toxic bodily waste.  Since these drugs are disposed of in hazmat bins, doesn’t it stand to reason that the human waste from a chemo patient must be a toxic solution that upon flushing is being added to our water stream?

If so, what does that mean for the aquatic plants and animals?  And, what does it mean for us as humans?  Septic systems and wastewater treatment systems are not designed to remove these types of chemicals from the water. 

So what can be done?  What should be done?  The writer of the letter provided this suggestion:
·       Cancer treatment centers could provide biowaste toilets and overnight beds for patients for at least 48 hours after chemo treatment

What other options are out there?  What are the next steps?

Please share your thoughts and join me in wishing this woman all the best in her quest to overcome cancer and protect our water!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Take Action during National Groundwater Awareness Week and Beyond

By: Jessica Wheeler, The Groundwater Foundation

This week is National Groundwater Awareness Week.  You can get involved by learning about groundwater and its irreplaceable role in our lives, then take action to protect and conserve our most precious resourceHere are a variety of ways you can make a difference this week and all year long:

At Home
  • The average American uses 100 gallons of water every day.  Use the fun, free 30by30 app for Apple and Android to learn how to reduce your water usage by 30 gallons a day for 30 days.
  • Check out our Top 10 List of ways to conserve and protect groundwater.

Green Spaces

The Green Site program recognizes green spaces that use environmentally-friendly landscape practices related to pesticide and fertilizer use, water use, pollution prevention, water quality, and environmental stewardship.  This program is a great way to generate positive PR for a variety of locations, including golf courses, botanical gardens, ball fields, wellhead protection areas, educational campuses, and more.  What sites in your community should be Green Sites?

In Your Community  

The Groundwater Guardian program brings together communities and businesses across the country in a unified effort to protect and conserve groundwater.  Groundwater Guardian marries the efforts of a strong local team with a clear framework for action to benefit the people and water of a community.  Find a Groundwater Guardian team near you to get involved with or consider starting a team of your own. 

Other Ideas

How are you getting involved during Groundwater Awareness Week?  What will you do the rest of the year?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Groundwater Awareness is Important to You!

by Cliff Treyens, Director of General Public Outreach, National Groundwater Association

National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 6-12, 2016. Now well into its second decade, Groundwater Awareness Week spotlights one of the world’s most important resources — groundwater.

Who should be “aware” of groundwater? Quite simply, everyone.
Groundwater is essential to the health and well-being of humanity and the environment. Whether you’re on a public water system or a private well, whether you are a health care official, policymaker, regulator, an environmentalist or a groundwater professional, you can get involved in protecting this vital resource.

Groundwater Awareness Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness in your community about the importance of groundwater to all of us. Even if we don't have a water well ourselves, groundwater is an integral part of life on Earth.

Forty-four percent of the American population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply — reason enough to act to protect groundwater. Another reason is that contaminated groundwater can harm the environment, including the ecosystems that depend on groundwater.

All people by their living habits can protect or harm groundwater — our nation and the world's most abundant freshwater supply. The first step toward protecting groundwater is to become aware of how it can be contaminated. The second step is to do your part to keep from contaminating groundwater. 

We challenge you to take this pledge:
I pledge to take one or more of the following actions to protect groundwater from contamination.
  1. Properly store hazardous household substances* in secure containers
  2. Mix hazardous household substances over concrete or asphalt where they can be cleaned up or absorbed
  3. Dispose of hazardous household wastes at an appropriate waste disposal facility or drop-off
  4. Do not put hazardous household wastes down the drain or in the toilet
  5. Do not put any wastes down a dry or abandoned well
  6. If I own a septic system, I will service it according to local health department recommendations
  7. If I own a water well, I will get a yearly maintenance check to ensure sanitary seals are intact
  8. Decommission abandoned wells on your property using a qualified water well contractor
  9. Fix or replace any leaking aboveground or underground tanks storing hazardous substances.
For more information about National Groundwater Awareness Week, please visit NGWA's website