Wednesday, November 28, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {#TBT: Let's Keep Winter Clean!}

It looks like winter is finally here to stay! Have fun, stay warm, and enjoy this post from last year on how to be a good steward of the earth while staying safe on the slippery sidewalks.

With so much snow and ice on the ground, it’s important that we stay safe on our way to work or school.  Many cities use big trucks carry loads of salt and sand to spread on the roads and sidewalks.  This mixture melts ice and prevents it from forming again so that we can travel around without slipping.

Once the ice is melted, though, the water mixes with the salt and the runoff can cause the groundwater and surface water to become contaminated.  Here’s some ways you can help limit contamination from your home this winter.

1. Shovel early and shovel often. Frannie thinks its fun to shovel snow when it's not too thick and heavy.

2. To limit salt pollution, don't use too much salt or ice-melt. You only need about a handful for each square yard of concrete and using more doesn't actually work better.

3. Sand and kitty litter can stop you from slipping, but they don't melt snow.  Too much of it can even clog sewers, so remember to sweep up and throw away any extra that is left after the ice is gone.

4. Try an eco-friendly alternative to ice-melt and sand such as cracked corn, alfalfa meal, or beet juice.  While you should still be careful not to over-use them, these ingredients are shown to be less harmful than traditional ice treatments.

We can have fun, stay safe, AND keep winter clean together!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

BLOG: We're Thankful!

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

My family and I started a new tradition this year - a Thankful Pumpkin. For the past couple weeks after dinner, we take turns sharing things we're thankful for and we write them on the pumpkin. It's a great visual reminder of how blessed we are, and it's been fun to hear from my kids the things they're thankful for. Our pumpkin has everything from Grandma, books, spinach, and fuzzy socks to our house, bacon, school, and water.

On social media this month, we've been sharing what we're thankful for here at the Groundwater Foundation on Thankful Thursdays. Here are a few of what we've shared:

We hope you have a Thanksgiving full of blessings. We're thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

BLOG: Our First Groundwater Week!

For the 22nd time, the National Ground Water Association’s Groundwater Week will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Scheduled for December 3-6, 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Groundwater Week is the groundwater industry’s biggest show, featuring educational opportunities, a packed exhibit hall with the latest from the industry’s manufacturers and suppliers, and opportunities to meet and network with groundwater professionals from around the world.

The Groundwater Foundation merged with NGWA's Foundation over the summer, and we are really looking forward to participating in our first Groundwater Week - which is rapidly approaching.

Some highlights from Groundwater Week 2018 include:

  • Early/New Career Meet Up 
  • First Timer/New Member Orientation
  • Master Groundwater Contractors Luncheon 
  • NGWA Welcome Party 
  • Keynote Presentation by actor, author, motivational speaker and retired U.S. Army soldier J.R. Martinez 
  • Awards of Excellence 
  • Exhibit Hall 
  • 2018 NGWA Darcy Lecture Farewell Presentation 
  • 2018 William A. McEllhiney Distinguished Lecture Series in Water Well Technology 
  • Coffee with NGWA Directors and CEO 
  • New Products Showcase 
  • NGWA Bookstore 
  • The Great Groundwater Foundation Scavenger Hunt 

Groundwater Week also offers a full slate of educational offerings. Workshops, panels and more will offer professional development opportunities about business management, drilling operations and well construction, safety and compliance, groundwater monitoring, sustainable and available groundwater, water quality, water systems, and well maintenance and rehabilitation. The Groundwater Foundation will be offering a workshop on Tuesday, December 4 about getting involved with its various programs and outreach efforts, including Groundwater Guardian and Groundwater Guardian Green Sites.

A reception with a live and silent auction will be held on Wednesday, December 5 to benefit the Groundwater Foundation’s programs. If you’re interested in donating to the auction or to see current auction items (there's some cool stuff available), go to If you’d like to donate an auction item, such as autographed memorabilia, gift baskets, professional services, unique experiences, etc., please contact Groundwater Foundation Executive Director Jane Griffin at To find out more about Groundwater Week, see a full schedule and description of events, or to register, visit

We're excited to be in Vegas this year to meet and network with fellow groundwater protectors. Won't you join us?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Happy Thanksgiving!}

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Frannie is hosting a huge Thanksgiving meal for her friends and family to show how thankful she is for their presence. Even though there will be a lot of cooking and cleaning, here are some tricks Frannie loves to use to stay water-smart during this time of year.

1)  Give yourself enough time to defrost your turkey. A popular method to quickly defrost turkey and other meats on the big day is to soak them in cold water. Instead, try planning ahead and place your turkey in the refrigerator a few days before. Just remember: the bigger the turkey, the more time it needs to thaw.
Bonus Tip: Put the turkey in a pan or plastic bag to catch any leaking juices. 

2)  Wash your veggies and fruits in a large bowl of water. Instead of using running water to rinse all the veggies, use a bowl to cut down the amount of water that goes down the drain. Then, give that grey water cleaning duty and soak the roasting pan, dirty utensils, or other dishes before washing them.

3)  Steaming your vegetables instead of boiling them not only conserves water, but also preserves more nutrients and vitamins. If you don’t have a special steamer, you can place your veggies and a few tablespoons of water in a microwave safe container with a lid and microwave them for a few minutes. No microwave? Place inexpensive metal forks on the bottom of a pot, fill with a few tablespoons of water, and then let veggies steam in a heat-safe plate on top of forks.

4)  When cleaning dishes, carefully and completely load up your dishwasher and only run full loads.  Did you know that an ENERGY STAR-rated dishwasher can use as little as three gallons? If you wash dishes by hand, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.  And remember, put that grey water you used to wash veggies to work by soaking dirty pans and dishes to make the whole process easier.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2018

BLOG: 5 Ways Green Sites Protect Groundwater

By Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Groundwater Guardian Green Sites is a program of the Groundwater Foundation that recognizes the groundwater stewardship of green spaces. Green Sites like golf courses, parks, educational and office campuses, nature centers, and more implement groundwater-friendly practices as part of their regular site maintenance. To participate, site managers fill out an application that documents their site’s practices related to water use, chemical use, potential contaminant management, and more, earning points for each practice. Here are 5 ways the protect groundwater:

1. Green Sites manage their site with groundwater in mind. The Green Site program prompts site managers to look internally at their practices and examine them through the lens of groundwater protection. The application makes them think and ask questions about how they operate, and look at ways they can improve their practices to protect groundwater and related natural resources. 

2. Green Sites look for ways to reduce their chemical use. Site managers earn points for finding ways to reduce their site’s chemical use – from implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to soil testing to determine nutrient needs. Green Sites have reduced fertilizer use by nearly 1 million pounds by analyzing the soil’s nutrient needs and using lower input plants, and reduced pesticide use by about 35% by using label recommended application rates and IPM.

3. Green Sites save water whenever they can. By utilizing precision watering and irrigation techniques, along with common sense practices, Green Sites use less water and still maintain healthy turf. In fact, participating Green Sites have saved nearly 500 million gallons of water by tracking their site’s water usage, modifying irrigation practices when necessary, and choosing plants and turf species that are adapted to the region’s climate. Some sites even use recycled wastewater for watering landscapes.

4. Green Sites are environmental stewards. Site managers that participate in the Green Site program actively look for ways to protect the environment beyond water resources. They implement recycling programs, install energy-efficient lighting, expand wildlife habitat, use native plants in landscaping, and more.

5. Green Sites educate site staff and the community. As an organization that focuses on education, it was imperative to the Groundwater Foundation to build continuing education into the Green Site program. Site managers document their internal education efforts for site staff, as well as public outreach efforts such as tours, work with students, and community events.

To find out more about the Green Site program and how you can get involved, visit, email, or call 402-434-2740.

Friday, November 2, 2018

BLOG: "Flushable" Wipes Aren't Flushable After All

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

What does "flushable" truly mean? If you define it as being capable of being flushed down a toilet as "flushable" then yes, flushable wipes are indeed flushable.

Flushable wipes going through the sewer system without causing a problem? Inconceivable! I'm reminded of a scene from one of my very favorite movies:

However, just because you conceivably can flush wipes, does it mean you should flush them?

The answer is a resounding "NO."

According to wastewater experts, the only things that should get flushed are human waste and toilet paper. The rest - wipes, feminine hygiene products, tissues, paper towels, cotton swabs, dental floss - all belong in the trash can for disposal. Medications should also never be flushed. Wastewater treatment facilities aren't typically able to remove these compounds. Seek out local take-back options instead (like the Nebraska MEDS Initiative) or utilize DEA's National Drug Take-Back Days.

What can happen if too much other stuff is flushed down drains or toilets? A whole lotta yuck, that's what. Take this example in Charleston, South Carolina. A series of clogs from wipes required employees to work 24 hours a day for five days to clear them, and even worse, divers to go down 80-90 feet into their system through raw sewage to find the clog.

If you have a septic system, flushing these items is also a terrible idea, filling the tank faster and affecting the system's ability to effectively treat wastewater.

The City of Spokane did a series of experiments showing what happens when common items are flushed down the toilet:

So do your local wastewater utility or septic system a favor - unless it's #1, #2, or toilet paper, keep it out of the toilet!

The Carmel, Indiana (a Groundwater Guardian team) Utility also has a great educational video about improperly flushing items.