Thursday, September 28, 2017

BLOG: Groundwater - The Neglected Child of the Water World

by Bill and Rosemarie Alley

We look forward to participating in the Groundwater Foundation's national conference in Boise. Rosemarie will begin with her insights on writing about science for the general reader. Bill will follow with groundwater examples from around the world, and conclude with thirteen key factors that contribute to good groundwater governance.

As we all know, groundwater is the neglected child of the water world. There are many interesting books and documentaries about surface water that are raising awareness and appreciation for today’s challenges with rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. But when it comes to groundwater—that 95 percent of earth’s unfrozen fresh water—most people are barely aware of it.

This has begun to change in recent years. Thanks in large part to the hard work of
organizations like the Groundwater Foundation and the National Ground Water Association, we are seeing a growing interest and appreciation of this great hidden world. From the community to the regional level, people are beginning to understand that effective groundwater governance requires collective action, with stakeholders working together, instead of the top-down decision-making that governs surface water. Groundwater is a democratic resource, not only because of its wide availability but also because managing it wisely means that people have to get together and be willing compromise.

As a scientist/nonscientist writing team, our goal in writing “High and Dry: Meeting the Challenges of the World’s Growing Dependence on Groundwater” was to bring greater visibility to the importance of, and growing threats to, this precious resource. Our goal was to cover groundwater as a global issue, but not as another crisis book. As such, we included stories of people and organizations who are working hard to make a difference, including the Groundwater Foundation.

We hope to see you in Boise!

2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference | October 24-26, 2017 | Boise, ID
Don't miss out - hear Bill and Rosemarie and other expert speakers. The Alleys' book will be available for purchase and signing at the conference. Register today! 

As a scientist/nonscientist writing team, Dr. William M. Alley and Rosemarie Alley communicate complex environmental science issues to a broad public. Dr. Alley provides the scientific expertise and Rosemarie’s job is to turn it into an engaging narrative. They have written two books together, as well as articles and Op/Ed pieces, and have given talks to a wide range of audiences. Their experiences as an unconventional team have given them unique insights in how to successfully hook the public’s interest with environmental science issues.

Friday, September 22, 2017

BLOG: 2017 Groundwater Guardians Make a Difference

by Sara Brock, Groundwater Foundation Program Manager

The Groundwater Foundation's Groundwater Guardian program has been around since 1994, but this was my first year working with the teams and learning about the various activities that communities across the country do to keep their groundwater safe. Communities earn their Groundwater Guardian designation by implementing Results-Oriented Activities (ROAs) that help educate their community about the their groundwater. These ROAs can take many shapes and forms, so here are my top 5 favorite ROAs that communities have completed in 2017.

5. In North Carolina, Orange County’s team is contributing data for the Orange Well Net (OWN), a national groundwater observation well network. This network is a drought monitoring tool that is equipped with an early warning system for declining groundwater levels.  By detecting drought conditions earlier, water suppliers can enact the necessary steps to prevent a serious water crisis. 

4. Many of our teams are based in water districts and utilities or have roles in some other governing role in regulating their city’s water supplies.  It’s common, and in some cases legally required, that these agencies provide an annual water quality report. While steps like these are routine, they are a crucial and concise way of getting all relevant information out to the public.

3. In Elkhart, Indiana, a high school student aquatic biology program collaborated with community volunteers to remove a whopping 2,280 pounds of trash from their river! This number includes the 17 tires they pulled out, along with more commonly littered items. 

2.  Shrewsbury Borough’s Groundwater Guardian team in Pennsylvania is really friendly with its community, working within businesses and even hospitals to make sure that wellhead protection requirements are met. Developers are provided with GIS maps of Wellhead Protection Areas to ensure that no future contamination threatens the community’s water supply.

1. My favorite ROA is slightly biased in that, in May, I personally got to run an activity at the Grand Island Children’s Groundwater Festival. Over 700 5th grade students participated in a staple event of the area for almost 30 years. The most amazing thing about this festival is that it is replicated in almost every state that has a Groundwater Guardian team!  Besides the Children’s Groundwater Festival in Nebraska that I attended, similar festivals have taken place in Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

Being the manager of the Groundwater Guardian program has been a great learning experience.  It’s sometimes easy to look at the gargantuan issues of depletion and pollution and think there’s no way to save our water.  The Groundwater Guardian’s network of talented and passionate individuals is an inspiring force that educates and supports communities to always do better by protecting and conserving of our most precious resource, water. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {DIY Book Covers}

Hopefully by now, you have all of the books and textbooks you need for your classes.  The best way to protect your books and yourself from damage fines is to make sure they’re covered.  Most stores sell inexpensive, colorful elastic cloth covers, but you can create your own customized covers with paper grocery sacks.
You will need a book, brown paper grocery bag, and scissors.
Tape and markers or crayons are optional.
Let's Get Started!

1. Cut down one corner of the paper bag and take away the bottom.  If your bag has handles, cut those away too. You should now have a large, flat piece of brown paper. 

 2. Customize the fit by placing your book on top of the paper bag. Fold the bottom of the paper up against the bottom of the book and make a crease.  Do the same thing with the paper at the top of the book.  Remove the book fold inward along the creases for the whole length of the paper.
3. Center the book on the paper.  You can do this by placing your book roughly in the center of the paper and folding the ends inside the front and back covers. Trim the paper if it’s too long and adjust the ends until they’re evenly situated on the inside cover.

4. You’re almost done!  Feed one end of the folded paper down and around the inside covers so that the top and bottom of the book are hidden behind the paper. Keep pulling the paper down until it fits snugly around the book. If you need to, you can secure your cover by placing tap along the top and bottom edges.

5. Decorate!!!

Show your friends how to customize their own book covers and share them with us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages for a chance to be featured in an upcoming blog!

Friday, September 15, 2017

BLOG: Global Connections

By Jane Griffin, Groundwater Foundation President

The mission of The Groundwater Foundation is to connect people, businesses and communities through local groundwater education and action. These connections happen every day, everywhere. We recently learned through Twitter about a connection in Kenya.

The Kingwede Water Club in Kwale County, Kenya learned about groundwater, how it can be become contaminated, and more by using our Awesome Aquifer Kits

Photo credit: Kingwede Water Club Blog
"In Kwale County on the coast of Kenya, a research project called Groundwater Risk Management for Growth and Development (Gro for GooD) is striving to help government and groundwater users find a management approach that balances human health, economic growth, and resource sustainability demands while benefiting the poorest demographic.

Inspired by community demand, Gro for GooD  is developing a programme of engagement to teach young women at Kingwede Secondary about water science, policy and management. The hope if to inspire them to promote better use and protection of water resources in their futures. Student-led activities will promote participation and teamwork and help the members develop their research and communication skills. Furthermore, a major benefit of the club is to showcase career options and pathways in environmental science and management and demonstrate that they are open to women as well as men."

Photo credit: Kingwede Water Club Blog
Read all about their learning experience.

Our Awesome Aquifer Kits are truly awesome – they help connect people across the globe in our effort to protect and conserve groundwater.

Do you want to have some fun learning about groundwater? Starting with our Awesome Aquifer kits is a great way. Find out more about the Awesome Aquifers activity or purchase your own.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {5 Tips to Go Green at School}

Welcome back to school!  Frannie has some useful tips to help you and your friends go green this semester.

1. If you get a ride to school, try carpooling with your friends.  Not only will you be environmentally friendly, but you will also have more fun singing with your friends to the songs on the radio.

2. If you are close to the school, encourage your friends to walk, bike, or even swim to school instead of using a car or the bus.

3. When shopping for school supplies, look for recycled paper, pencils made from recycled denim, and backpacks created from old juice boxes.  Save money, be eco-friendly, and stay on trend for the school year.

4. Speaking of trends, did you know that Target donates it’s damaged, discontinued, and out-of-season items to Goodwill?  You can often find current styles and gadgets at discount stores for a fraction of the price while helping reduce waste.

5. Frannie knows that food waste is a problem, but single-use plastic baggies or brown bags and pre-wrapped snacks are also bad for the environment.  Instead, invest in a re-usable lunch box and utensils. Sturdy plastic storage containers help you go green while protecting your sandwiches and bananas from getting squished on the way to school.


Bonus Tip: 
Check to see if your school has a recycling program or environmental club you can join. If there isn’t one, consider starting your own and helping your friends go green at school. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

BLOG: Protect Your Groundwater Day is September 5

If you are a private water well owner, there are many ways to protect your water quality. Two of the most important are:

1. To make sure your well is properly capped, and 
2. To properly plug any abandoned wells on your property. 

That’s why the 2017 theme for Protect Your Groundwater Day, on Tuesday, September 5, is “Cap It, Plug It!” 

Why is this so important? A water well provides a direct connection between the what’s above the ground and groundwater in the subsurface. 

If an active water well is not properly capped—or if an abandoned well is not properly plugged—it can create a direct pathway for contamination in the same groundwater you and others use for their drinking water supply. 

If you own a household well, you are responsible for making sure that your well is properly capped and any abandoned wells on your property are properly plugged. 

What makes a properly capped water well? First, not just any covering will do on top of the well casing, that vertical pipe that extends above the ground in your well. A proper well cap should: 
• Be bolted or locked, so that it cannot be easily removed, 
• Have a rubber seal to prevent anything from infiltrating the well where the cap is joined to the well casing, 
• Be in good condition. 

A tight-fitting well cap that is not bolted or locked can be jarred loose or removed by someone other than the well owner. Also, a well cap that lacks a rubber seal or is cracked or otherwise broken can allow bugs, vermin, bacteria or other types of contaminants above the ground surface into the well.

 Well caps should be installed by a water well system professional, and any well cap maintenance or replacement should be done by a professional. Also, a well system should be disinfected when a well cap is installed, repaired, or replaced. 

How do I properly plug an abandoned well? First, the challenge is to find abandoned wells on your property. Some abandoned wells are obvious while others are not. Survey your property for: 
• Pipes sticking out of the ground. 
• Small buildings that may have been a well house. 
• Depressions in the ground. 
• The presence of concrete vaults or pits. 
 Out-of-use windmills. 

Other tips for finding old, abandoned wells can be found in: 
• Old maps, property plans or property title documents. 
• Neighbors. 
• Additions to an old home that might cover up an abandoned well. 

A water well system professional may do additional checking—including a records check—for more information about abandoned wells. 

A water well system professional should always plug an abandoned well using proper techniques, equipment, and materials. The professional should: • Remove all material from the well that may hinder proper plugging. 
• Disinfect the well. 
• Then plug the well using a specialized grout that (1) keeps surface water from working its way into the borehole, and (2) prevents water from different subsurface levels from mixing. 

The cost to plug a well depends on factors including: 
• The depth and diameter of the well 
• The geology of the area 
• Accessibility to the well, and 
• The condition of the well. 

For more information, please visit