Thursday, June 30, 2016

Risk Communication and Wellhead Protection

By Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation

Risks can be faced in just about any endeavor.  The risks may be perceived or real.  They may be big or small.  The important thing is how we deal with those risks. 

Wellhead protection is all about identifying the risks to a certain well or set of wells.  One of the first steps of the wellhead protection process is a contaminant source inventory or looking at what are the potential risks to a particular drinking water well.  Completing this step gives us the information to proactively protect our drinking water by mitigating the risk. 

Often times this requires the action of all citizens and as such we need to be able to communicate the potential risks in such a way that they understand that everyone needs to change their behaviors to protect their drinking water.  However, risk communication is a skill.  One that many of us have not learned.

The Groundwater Foundation will be providing a presentation on risk communication at its upcoming Wellhead Protection Network meeting on July 7th.  Join us for the meeting to learn how to inspire communities to get on board with wellhead protection and how to get citizens to understand the issues and take part in protection efforts.  Steven Wolf, Community Engagement Director with JEO Consulting Group will share his expertise around this topic.  If you are able to attend, please RSVP to Cindy at  Attendance is free - lunch costs $10.

Share with us your ideas and thoughts concerning risk communication.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

2016 "Be Waterwise" Poster Contest

By: Jessica Wheeler, The Groundwater Foundation

The Lincoln, Nebraska Groundwater Guardian team hosts an annual water conservation poster contest for fifth graders across the city. The first place winner's art will be featured on a StarTran bus board and the second place winner's artwork will be featured on billboards throughout Lincoln.

 First place - Aleena Nguyen, Pyrtle Elementary
Second place - Evyn Shafer, Lincoln Christian
Tied for third place - Alaina Nielsen, Morley Elementary

Tied for third place - Caleb Schwerdtfeger, St. John's

How does your community get involved with water conservation and protection? Join the Groundwater Guardian program, a nationwide network of over 70 communities working locally to raise groundwater awareness.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

11 Ways to Conserve Water During Summer Fun

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Kids are out of school and summer is upon us. Many times summer fun involves water, and here are easy ways to conserve water during summer fun.

1. If you want to beat the heat by running through the sprinkler, make it have a purpose! Periodically move the sprinkler around the lawn to give it all a good watering. 

2. Position your sprinkler to water your garden or landscape while the kids splash and play.
3. Install a rain barrel on one of your home's downspouts. Let your kids paint and decorate it for a colorful, unique addition to your landscape.

4. If you're lucky enough to have a backyard pool, use a pool cover and keep the water cool to help reduce water lost to evaporation.

5. Stay cool by placing a wet cloth around your neck instead of using misters, where most of the water evaporates immediately.

6. Spend more time having fun and less time on yardwork - mow your grass less often and cut it longer. Less water will evaporate from taller grass, and you'll save time and energy by mowing less.

7. On your family vacation, reuse your hotel towels throughout your stay to conserve water and save on detergent added to water.
8. When eating out on your vacation, decline the frequent water refills if you don't plan to drink it for less water wasted down the drain.

9. Take the kids to the pool and skip the bath. Swimming counts as a bath during the summer, right?

10. Fill reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic bottles during sporting events and summer road trips.

11. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for a refreshing drink after fun in the sun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Incentive Programs Save Water

By Andy Belanger, SNWA Public Services Director and Groundwater Foundation Board Member

While only 10 percent of Southern Nevada’s municipal water supply comes from groundwater, a small segment of our desert community relies solely on groundwater to meet its water needs. The Las Vegas Valley groundwater basin, which has been over-allocated for more than a half-century, serves approximately 6,700 households on wells.

Recognizing that Las Vegas is one of the most arid metropolitan communities in the U.S., the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) encourages conservation through a series of outreach and rebate programs. Incentive programs for well owners include a Sub-Meter Assistant Program, Water Smart Landscapes Rebate, Pool Cover Rebate and Smart Irrigation Controller Rebate.

Most Las Vegas Valley well users do not have a meter on their well and are unaware of their water use. Because the first step in conservation is measuring how much water is being used, the SNWA – through the Las Vegas Valley Groundwater Management Program which it manages – provides a one-inch water meter and a $150 rebate to help offset meter installation costs.

Reducing outdoor water use through the Water Smart Landscapes Rebate has inspired well-using households to remove more than 1.8 million square feet of water-thirsty grass and replace it with a water smart landscape. Eligible well owners receive $2 per square foot of grass removed, up to 2,500 square feet.

In total, SNWA’s landscape rebate has saved more than 98 billion gallons of water by encouraging Southern Nevada homeowners and businesses to remove enough grass to wrap an 18-inch wide strip of sod 90 percent around the earth.

Rebate coupons for pool covers that reduce evaporation and water smart irrigation controllers that adjust watering schedules based on the weather also help conserve water. Well owners receive $50 or 50 percent off the purchase price of a pool cover, and 50 percent, up to $200, off the purchase price of a water smart irrigation clock.

Conservation has become a way of life in our community, and well owners continue to do their part to contribute to conservation efforts. For more information about the SNWA conservation programs for well users, visit or

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Pain of Planning

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Over the years, The Groundwater Foundation has worked with many communities across the U.S. that have developed wellhead protection (WHP) plans as a means to protect their groundwater and drinking water.

Developing the plan is often a long and arduous process. It involves assessing threats and risks to groundwater, figuring out action plans to protect it, hearing from stakeholders, and a final adoption of the plan.

The plan's completion is in and of itself a major accomplishment. But it's what comes next that defines the future of that community's groundwater. Does the plan get checked off a list, set on the shelf, and never looked at again? Or does it serve as a road map for the implementation of the action plans and protecting groundwater?

Over the past nine months, The Groundwater Foundation has been immersed in developing a strategic plan for our organization. In reviewing parts of the plan today, it dawned on me how much this process mirrors the WHP planning process. We've gathered information from stakeholders. We've looked at challenges to the long-term success of our organization. We've developed action plans to help us reach our goals. And our board of directors will formally adopt the plan in the next few months.

And now comes the scary part: implementation. It's where the rubber meets the road, both for WHP and for the success of The Groundwater Foundation. It's very easy to lose sight of the long-term vision of WHP and a strategic plan in the day-to-day busy-ness of our work, but it's vital that we keep our eye on the prize and look to the future. For The Groundwater Foundation, implementing the action plans of our strategic plan is what will ensure our organization continues to educate people and inspire action on behalf of groundwater. For communities, implementing a WHP plan is what will keep their community's drinking water safe into the future.

So while planning may be a pain, both strategically for The Groundwater Foundation and WHP for a community, it's a necessary process to get us to the next step of implementation and protecting our precious groundwater.

Has your community implemented a wellhead protection plan? Tell us about it - post a comment or email