Wednesday, August 29, 2018

BLOG: Be a Groundwater Protector for Protect Your Groundwater Day!

Taking place on September 4, Protect Your Groundwater Day (#PYGWD) highlights protection of the resource and encourages public participation. PYGWD is an annual observance established to highlight the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater. The event is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance.
Leading up to #PYGWD, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), sponsor of #PYGWD, encourages everyone to become official “groundwater protectors” by taking steps to conserve and protect the resource. Businesses, individuals, educators, students, federal agencies, cities, associations, and everyone in between can ask to be added to our groundwater protector list through our website or on social media. Another great way to demonstrate your commitment to groundwater protection is by getting involved in the Groundwater Foundation's Groundwater Guardian and/or Green Site programs.

Additionally, on NGWA’s #PYGWD site groundwater protectors will find a toolkit with downloadable and shareable materials to spread the word. These materials include:

  • Suggested social media posts (just copy and share!)
  • List of facts about groundwater
  • Logos and graphics, including email header, social media images, printable groundwater protector icon, and more
  • Press release to share with local media or government officials

Groundwater Facts
Approximately 132 million Americans rely on groundwater for drinking water. It is used for irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and several additional purposes, making it one of the most widely used and valuable natural resources we have. Consider the following facts:

  • Americans use 79.6 billion gallons of groundwater each day.
  • Groundwater is 20 to 30 times larger than all U.S. lakes, streams, and rivers combined.
  • 44 percent of the U.S. population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply.
  • More than 13.2 million households have their own well, representing 34 million people.

Visit or for more facts, resources, and ways you can help spread the word about groundwater protection.

Friday, August 24, 2018

BLOG: The Importance of Proper Drug Disposal

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The Groundwater Foundation has been a proud member of the Nebraska MEDS Coalition since it began. Earlier this month, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts declared August 27-September 2, 2018 Nebraska Drug Overdose Awareness Week in an effort to raise awareness throughout the state about the importance of proper drug disposal.

Nebraska MEDS Coalition members pose after the proclamation ceremony at the Nebraska State Capitol on August 6, 2018.
Why is proper drug disposal an important issue for all Nebraskans? In Nebraska, drug overdoses have tripled since 1999, with 81% of all poisoning deaths caused by drugs and medications. Unused medications can fall into the wrong hands and lead to accidental poisoning or misuse, making it vital to safely and properly dispose of medications.

Improper drug disposal can also impact the environment. When flushed, put down the drain, or thrown in the trash, over-the-counter and prescription medications can contaminate water supplies. Most water treatment facilities do not have the capacity to remove these emerging contaminants.

Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of the Nebraska MEDS Initiative, there’s an easy disposal solution for Nebraskans – over 330 pharmacies across Nebraska will take back medications free of charge, no questions asked. These pharmacies accept medications for safe and legal disposal, giving consumers an easy and safe method of keeping medications from falling into the wrong hands out of the environment. Find a participating pharmacy at

Several events are planned to recognize Nebraska Drug Overdose Awareness Week throughout Nebraska. The public is invited to attend:

  • Tuesday, August 28: Ord Mayor Roger Goldfish will visit Anderson Pharmacy (1429 M Street, Ord) to dispose of medications at 10:00 a.m. Holdrege Mayor Doug Young will also dispose of medications at 10:00 a.m., at Fulmer Pharmacy (1317 Hill Street, Holdrege).
  • Wednesday, August 29: At 1:00 p.m., Mayor Josh Moenning of Norfolk will dispose of medications at U-Save Pharmacy (1001 W Benjamin Avenue, Norfolk). 
  • Thursday, August 30: Candlelight vigil at the University of Nebraska-Omaha Engagement Center (Room 201, 6400 University Drive South). Speakers will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the vigil at the Bell Tower at 8:00 p.m. Sponsored by LiveWise, Valley Hope, Coalition Rx, and Nebraska Pharmacists Association.
  • Friday, August 31: International Drug Overdose Awareness Day – Light Up the World. Remember lost loved ones or show support by lighting a candle or porch light, and sharing our loved ones with the world.
  • All week: Nebraska Regional Poison Control Center will be handing out materials at the Mutual of Omaha building (3301 Dodge Street, Omaha) throughout each day.

You can also follow along on social media - follow Nebraska MEDS on Facebook and Twitter.

“We hope all Nebraskans understand the importance of properly disposing of leftover medications,” said Hallie Schimenti, Project Coordinator for the Nebraska MEDS Initiative. “Not only does it prevent overdose, accidental poisoning, abuse, and misuse, proper disposal also helps protect our water resources. Every day is Take-Back Day in Nebraska!”

“Since the MEDS initiative went statewide in 2016, over 66,000 pounds of medications have been returned to pharmacies across the state,” Schimenti said. “The Coalition is a great mix of state, local, and community organizations representing a variety of stakeholders in the medication disposal issue.”

The Nebraska MEDS Initiative is funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Legislature. The Nebraska Medication Education on Disposal Strategies (MEDS) Coalition educates Nebraskans about drug disposal and provides safe ways to dispose of them to better safeguard the environment and protect public health. The Coalition includes the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, The Groundwater Foundation, Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, Lincoln Police Department, Coalition Rx, Lincoln Public School Nurses, LiveWise Coalition, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Medical Association, AARP of Nebraska, Nebraska Pharmacy Foundation, Nebraska Regional Poison Center, Safe Kids Lincoln-Lancaster County, KETV, Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and Nebraska State Patrol.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Frannie's Adventure Downstream: Part 2}

This is the second of a three part series exploring pollution in the stream near Frannie's home. Join her on her adventure downstream to see what happens or go back to read the first part of her journey.

As Frannie was continuing her adventure, she started to notice that the river had a salty taste.

Add the fourth item to the bowl – road salt: Pour in some salt.

“Oh no! Poor Frannie.”

Frannie began to swim faster to escape the salt.

Downstream, Frannie passed a picnic site. Someone left their trash behind. Right then, a big gust of wind came and pushed most of the trash right into the stream. Frannie didn’t like this mess at all! Frannie tried to push the litter out of the stream but couldn’t get it all with her little fins.

Add the fifth item to the bowl – litter: Add the paper into the bowl.

“Oh no. Poor Frannie!”
She continued to swim downstream, determined to continue her adventure.

Frannie heard a lot of commotion up on the bank of the stream. She peeked out of the water and saw an overturned oil truck. Some of the oil from the truck had spilled into the stream! If Frannie’s gills ever got clogged up with oil, she would have trouble breathing.

Add the sixth item to the bowl – oil: Pour in the vegetable oil.

“Oh no. Poor Frannie!”

As Frannie continued to swim away from the oil spill, she noticed storm clouds overhead. The rain that began to fall into the stream from the storm clouds wasn’t clean water. Frannie’s scales begin to itch!

Add the seventh item to the bowl – acid rain: Pour in the vinegar.

“Oh no! Poor Frannie!”

Frannie passed a leaky, rusty old barrel. An unknown substance was leaking out. Unbeknownst to her, an old factory had dumped the tank into the river many years ago. But now the barrel was leaking. As Frannie swims by, she takes in a gulp of water.
Add the eighth item to the bowl – leaky storage tank: Add in a small container with a cracked lid, filled with colored water.

“Oh no! Poor Frannie!”

Check back to see how Frannie's journey ends!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

BLOG: What are PFAS?

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

PFAS: You've seen them in the news, on social media, and all around the water world as of late. So let's dig in and try to understand this emerging groundwater contaminant.

What are they?
According to the National Ground Water Association, PFAS refers to per- and poly-fluoralkyl substances. In layman's terms, they're a group of man-made chemicals that have been around since the 1940s, but recently have been discovered in water supplies. They're used in many ways - in firefighting, stain resistance, water repellants, and other industrial uses.

There are literally thousands of chemicals in the PFAS family. These chemicals were extensively manufactured, but were phased out in the early 2000s in the U.S. and Europe. Current manufacturing processes minimize potential adverse effects.

Source: EPA
Why are they in the environment?
PFAS are durable and have a long half-life, which means they can accumulate in the environment and in our bodies. Even though they are no longer manufactured in the U.S., items that may contain these chemicals are still imported. They may also still be present in landfills that have been receiving waste since the 1950s and in facilities that use aqueous film forming foams (AFFF). AFFF are used to fight fires and basically act as a blanket to coat and suppress the fire.

Source: EPA
Why are they a problem?
Since PFAS have been in widespread use, most Americans have had some exposure to them, through water, food, inhalation, using products that contain PFAS, or working in manufacturing facilities that use these chemicals.

Because there are thousands of chemicals classified as PFAS, the health impacts are still unclear. However, studies of some of these chemicals have found associations between PFAS exposure and health problems such as liver and kidney damage, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, certain types of cancer, decreased response to vaccines, and increased risks of thyroid disease, fertility issues, and asthma.

What's being done?
If you have a private well and are concerned about PFAS contamination, you'll need to use specific testing labs that have this testing capability. Find out more.

Earlier this year, the U.S. EPA started the process to evaluate a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFAS chemicals in public drinking water supplies. The agency is also looking at cleanup recommendations and working with partners to address PFAS. EPA is currently holding public meetings across the U.S. to talk about how it's addressing PFAS contamination.

How can I find out more?
The National Ground Water Association ( has developed a variety of resources to help understand PFAS and what they mean for you. Find their PFAS Resource Center at You can also find information from EPA at

Information in this blog was adapted from NGWA's PFAS FAQ document.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Frannie’s Adventure Downstream: Part 1}

Frannie and her friends need cool, clear streams to live in. A while ago, Frannie explored a local creek.  The story of her adventure is a good visual activity to learn how different sources of pollution can affect a clear stream and eventually make it unsuitable for wildlife such as fish.

For this activity, you will need:

A fishing lure to represent Frannie - one that looks like a fish, with hooks removed, preferably weighted or sinking lure that is colorful. Frannie is on a fishing line suspended in a gallon jug or fish bowl of clear water.

Gallon jar, fish bowl, or small fish aquarium

Gravel for the bottom of the bowl/aquarium (optional)

Pencil or ruler placed of the top of jar to hold Frannie suspended halfway in the jar under water

10 small containers or plastic bags to hold contaminants

1.     Sediment
Potting soil, sand and gravel mix
2.     Manure
Raisins, dry beans, chocolate-puff cereal
3.     Fertilizer
Green powdered drink mix
4.     Road Salt
5.     Litter
Torn paper and plastic bits
6.     Motor Oil
Vegetable oil
7.     Acid Rain
Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar tinted orange/pink
with food dye
8.     Leaking Storage
Film canister with a cracked lid filled with red/blue food dye and water
9.     Industrial Waste
Liquid dish/hand soap/lotion and nails/screws/bolts/
10. Pesticides
Baking soda or salt mixed with instant coffee or tea

One day, Frannie left her shady, cool pool and headed downstream on an adventure.

After a little while, Frannie noticed that the sun was shining and the stream was no longer as cool and dark. She looked out of the water and noticed that all the trees had been cut down and sediment from the banks was washing into the water.

Add the first item to the bowl – sediment: Sprinkle some soil over the water and allow it to slowly settle over Frannie. 

“Oh no! Poor Frannie!”

After a while Frannie poked her nose out of the water and do you know what she saw? Big black and white animals coming down to visit her. Cows! As they walked in the water they stirred up mud and left some smelly “presents.”

Add the second item to the bowl – manure: Sprinkle some raisins or cereal and let them sink in the water.

“Oh no! Poor Frannie!”

Frannie continued to swim downstream and passed some cornfields, but was no longer feeling very well.

Add the third item to the bowl – fertilizer: Sprinkle in green powdered drink mix.

“Oh no! Poor Frannie!”

Frannie wasn’t ready to go home and continued to swim downstream.

Check back to see how Frannie's adventure continues!