Wednesday, December 25, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Upcycled Reindeer}

Happy holidays to one and all!

Frannie loves making holiday crafts with her friends and this year, they decorated their homes with upcycled toilet paper roll reindeer. It's so simple that all you need is a toilet paper roll (or a paper towel roll cut in half), a pencil or pen, and a pair of scissors.

To make your reindeer extra fancy, you can also get a red button or cotton ball to be glued on as a nose, sticker or googly eyes, and crayons or markers. Be creative!

Start by squishing the toilet paper tube flat. Lightly draw lines, as seen below, that you will then cut along to form the antler and legs of the reindeer.

Cut out the legs completely, making sure you cut through both sides of the roll. Next, cut along the top line, making sure you cut through both sides of the roll. Separate your antlers by cutting the top of the tube along the crease, as shown below.

Now it's time to shape the antlers. First, take one of the antlers and make a twist inward so that the antler points forward. While holding the first twist in place, make a second twist so that the antler is now pointing towards the tail of the reindeer. Repeat with the second antler.

Fold the cut edges below the antlers down so that one side covers the other. Now that you've finished the body of the reindeer, you can decorate it any way you'd like! Frannie wanted to make Rudolph so she colored him in with brown crayons, drew on eyes, and gave him a nose with a bright red cotton ball.

Have a great holiday, everyone! See you in the new year!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

BLOG: Groundwater Education in Hawaii

by Jennifer Wemhoff, Groundwater Foundation

Earlier this year, in the middle of one of the snowiest winters on record in the Groundwater Foundation’s hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, we received an order from the Groundwater Catalog for 10 Awesome Aquifer Kits and JUG (Just Understanding Groundwater) kits. I was instantly jealous of the kits, as they were headed off to say “Aloha” and help people understand groundwater in their new home of Hawaii.

For the last 33 years, Daniel Chang has been involved in environmental education and outreach, in one form or another, while working on drinking water and groundwater quality with the Hawaii Department of Health. Chang has been instrumental in getting groundwater education tools into the hands of educators. He understands the value of groundwater as a natural resource and its finite nature.

“If we contaminate or waste this resource, we cannot go out and get more, so we need to be good stewards, use it wisely, and protect it from contamination,” he said. “Education and outreach is one way to get the message out. Knowledgeable citizens and students are important in ensuring good quality water now and into the future.”

Although it’s surrounded by water as an island state, Hawaii relies on groundwater as its main source of water for drinking and irrigation. Over 500 million gallons per day of groundwater is used in the state to fulfill domestic, commercial, and industrial needs. Groundwater provides about 99 percent of Hawaii’s domestic water and about 50 percent of freshwater used in Hawaii. Hawaii’s groundwater resources may appear plentiful, but much of the precipitation runs off to the ocean in streams or returns to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration.

Naturally, Chang wanted to help Hawaiians understand this resource. “Working in the State’s  Groundwater Protection Program, we would get calls from schools to talk about groundwater in Hawaii and needed a way to explain how groundwater works to students,” he said.

While looking for possible activities that he and his colleagues could use to present to students, he came across the AAK and JUG through the Groundwater Foundation catalog, and was excited
about how the tools could be used.

“The interesting part of these kits was that they were simple, yet provided several activities that we could do to teach the students about groundwater,” Chang explained. He said they use both the AAK and the JUG to teach students groundwater basics.

The kits have been used in a variety of educational settings that showcase their adaptability. From groundwater displays at Earth Day events and county fairs, Project WET educator trainings, special events like the annual Make-A-Splash Water Festival conducted by the Kauai Department of Water, to direct education in classrooms with students, the JUG and AAK are helping to spread the message about groundwater.

Notably, the Hawaii Department of Health provided funding to the state’s Project WET Coordinating Agency to purchase AAK and JUG kits that were provided to educators that attended the Project WET Educator’s Workshops for use in their classrooms.

They’re making an impact. “Students enjoy the different activities that we teach them using these educational tools,” Chang said. “Many of them ask us when we are coming back to do more activities with them.”

Other agencies have also embraced the kits as teaching tools, including Chang’s Hawaii Department of Health and the Kauai Department of Water, which Chang said has has spurred environmental education beyond groundwater. He points out that in the recently completed Hawaii State Science and
Engineering Fair, personnel from the Department of Health judged 20 projects related to drinking water and groundwater.

“This is a significant increase over the past 10-20 years when we were lucky to see just a handful of projects,” Chang said.

Chang knows his and his team’s work isn’t done when it comes to teaching people about  groundwater. “While the State has made progress in our groundwater education and outreach efforts, there is still a lot more that needs to be done,” he said.

Chang is excited about continuing to find new ways to deliver groundwater education. He knows that new and creative ways of groundwater education come from reviewing existing ideas and activities, creative and innovative thinking, and the sharing of ideas.

“The Groundwater Foundation has been a great resource in our efforts,” Chang said.

Get your own Awesome Aquifer Kit, Just Understanding Groundwater kit, or other useful groundwater education products from the Groundwater Foundation’s online catalog.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Groundwater Week 2019 - Groundwater Foundation Scavenger Hunt!}

Frannie had an amazing time at Groundwater Week in Las Vegas, NV. She said hello to many of her old Groundwater Guardian friends at the Groundwater Foundation Symposium on Tuesday, but Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated to making new friends while doing the Groundwater Foundation Scavenger Hunt!

The Scavenger Hunt consisted of 17 companies or organizations who supported the Groundwater Foundation by donating money to help Frannie and Foundation staff do education and outreach activities.

Frannie first swam down aisle 1 to meet GICON and NAPCO Pipe & Fittings.

Then she dashed around to say hello to Cotey Chemical Corp, GEFCO, and Wyo-Ben. Wyo-Ben also donated an item to the Groundwater Foundation's silent auction fundraiser!

Next door on aisle 4, Frannie met representatives from International Pipe and National Driller.

Frannie made 3 friends on aisle 5, including A.O. Smith Water Systems, Boshart Industries, and Flomatic Valves!

She ran into some old friends at the Water Systems Council booth, who have happily supported the Foundation's education efforts for a long time.

Frannie is sorry that she missed the folks at Cascadian Water and Sun-Star Electric, Inc, but hopes to see them at Groundwater Week next year!

Frannie skipped a couple aisle to get to aisle 9, where she met friends from Simmons Manufacturing and Mount Sopris.

Frannie was getting kind of tired from swimming all over the exhibit hall, so she was happy to stop by and rest awhile at the CSI Water Treatment Systems booth.

At the far end of the hall, a nice representative from Milspec Industries welcomed Frannie and the Groundwater Foundation booth for a quick photo-op just before dinner.

Great job, Frannie! And a big Thank You to the sponsors of the Groundwater Foundation Scavenger Hunt for supporting the Groundwater Foundation's vision to protect our drinking water resources by connecting and inspiring individuals and communities to take action with the goal of having clean, sustainable groundwater.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {What-A-Cycle!}

See below for a special announcement!
A week ago, Frannie was in Cincinnati meeting with science educators and curriculum developers for the National Science Teaching Association regional conference. While she was there she met Dennis, a climate scientist from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who was handing out a water cycle modeling activity called "What-A-Cycle"!

Frannie thought the idea was so clever but she knew she wouldn't have the time do it because she had to get ready for Groundwater Week. She reached out to her friends at the Groundwater Foundation, knowing we'd be excited to share this craft with you today.

WHAT-A-CYCLE Water Cycle Paper Craft
You'll need:

1. If you printed out a Black and White copy or an unlabeled copy of the What-a-cycle paper craft worksheet, you should first color it and label all the parts of the water cycle.

2. Cut out the atmospheric portion of the water cycle and then cut out the ground portion of the water cycle. You should now have 2 separate pieces.

3. Fold the lettered tabs and along the marked lines on the ground piece and start to form a 3-D version of the groundwater and runoff portions of the water cycle. Once you start to see how the flat version transforms into 3-D, glue or tape the tabs together to form the model.

4. Fold along the dotted line in the atmospheric portion of the water cycle so that the largest precipitation cloud is at a right angle to the rest of the background.

5. Glue or tape the 3-D groundwater portion of the model to the atmospheric section of the model to complete the activity.

Frannie has been blogging about the water cycle a lot these past couple months.Go back to review her water cycle blogs first, and then trace as many paths a water droplet can take as you can find. What parts of the water cycle deep dives are shown in this model? What parts are missing?

Let her know by email or through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Special Announcement!!
Catch Frannie next week on Facebook in a very special addition of "Water-Wise Wednesdays" as she completes the Groundwater Foundation Scavenger Hunt in the Groundwater Week Exhibit Hall! Frannie is excited to introduce you to several companies who make it possible for her (and her friends at the Groundwater Foundation!) to share the importance of groundwater through education.

Friday, November 15, 2019

BLOG: 30 Years and 30,000 Students

by Marcia Lee, Central Platte Natural Resources District

In 2004, Groundwater Foundation staff approached the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD) about handing over their flagship youth event—the state’s first Children’s Groundwater Festival, which had been held in Grand Island, Nebraska since it began in 1989.

The CPNRD staff was excited to take on the challenge. In 2005, the Foundation and the NRD co-coordinated the event for a smooth transition. CPNRD staff Kelly Cole, programs coordinator, and Marcia Lee, information/education specialist, have been coordinating it ever since.

“That first year on our own we were both eager and nervous about taking on a statewide event,” said Lee. “The guidance we received from the Foundation assured that everything went smoothly.”

This May marked the 30th year that the festival has brought professionals together to teach youth about all aspects of groundwater. Lee said over the 30 years, the message students take in has remained the same—groundwater is a precious resource and we all have a part in protecting and preserving it.

Over 30,000 students from across the state of Nebraska have attended the Festival over the years. The festival model has been replicated in 42 states in the United States, and in Mexico, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. At the Nebraska festival, students participate in 25-minute in-depth classroom activities and a stage show that relate to groundwater. Professionals from state and local agencies, environmental organizations, and other volunteers teach about groundwater interactions with surface water and effects of pumping, the Ogallala aquifer, pollinators, stream flows, wetlands, pollution, drinking water, recycling, wastewater, industry use, the water cycle, water filtration, municipal systems, and more.

Festival coordinators set each school’s schedule, placing the students in six different activity topics, where various they learn about their topic through fun hands-on activities, games, and relay races.

Teachers are provided a pretest to give to their students prior to attending the festival and then a post-test following the event. “We’ve found that students retain information better when they are  personally involved in the activities, so we encourage every presenter to make their activity
interactive,” Lee said.

Cole said a few changes have been made over the years. The first was to rename the event the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival and partner with the Grand Island Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Festival Committee reaches out to businesses and individuals each year for donations to cover equipment, materials, and sack lunches provided to students, teachers, presenters, and volunteers beyond the $10,000 that the CPNRD budgets annually for the festival.

A change that will take effect in 2020 is the shift from inviting both fourth and fifth grade students to only fifth grade. The Festival Committee worked with the Nebraska Department of Education to determine which grade-level best fit the Festival with the new science standards, and determined that the festival correlates with fifth grade curriculum. The change will also allow schools to be on an every-other-year rotating invitation.

The festival’s location is also a vital aspect to the number of schools that can attend. Since its inception, the festival has been held in Grand Island, which is a central location for most schools in the state.

“We’re so fortunate to have Central Community College and College Park as partners,” said Cole. “They’ve allowed us to take over their campuses to hold the festival at no cost for 30 years.”

A good indicator that the festival is successful are the evaluations that are returned each year. Teachers, presenters, and volunteers are encouraged to complete evaluation forms to help the coordinators make improvements each year.

Even better indicators are letters from college students. The CPNRD has received several letters from former students who say they appreciate the opportunity to attend the festival as elementary students and that it opened their eyes to their career path.

“It’s incredibly rewarding when we receive those letters,” Lee said. “It’s gratifying to know that the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival has made a personal impact on someone’s life and that they share the same devotion to groundwater that we do.”

Cole and Lee say the event seems to get easier each year and they don’t lose as much sleep as that first year. The hard work is worth it, and they hope the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival continues to impact students— at least another 30,000 Nebraska youth over the next 30 years.

For more information about the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival, visit

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Hydro Van Gogh}

Express your artistic side and follow a water drop's journey through the ground in a fun activity called Hydro Van Gogh! An aquifer is an underground geological formation of sand, soil, gravel, and rock able to store and yield water. The water from an aquifer is called groundwater and it is the water we drink and the water that grows our food. Find out more!

Here's what you need:
  • Aquifer map and/or an aquifer model
  • Canvas panels (recommended 5" x 7") or large sheets of paper
  • Oil pastels or acrylic paint 
  • Paint brushes

Here's what you do:
1. Identify the different parts of an aquifer using the graphic below:

2. Set out the canvas panel or a large sheet of paper, paint, and paintbrushes.

3. Now, pretend like you are a water drop that lands on the ground and seeps into an aquifer. Paint what you see as the water drop. Get as creative as you like!

Optional extra: continue to paint your journey through the water cycle.
What would you see?
How many different pathways through the water cycle will you take?
What kinds of materials will you interact with?

Be sure to share youmasterpiece at home with your family. Share what you know about groundwater and how to protect it!

Send pictures of your paintings to   

Friday, November 1, 2019

BLOG: Easy Tips for Protecting Your Well, Your Water, and Your Wallet This Winter.

The cooler weather and pumpkin pies can be a welcome change from the summer heat, but it also means one looming fact: winter is coming.

While many of the water well systems in the northern U.S. are required to be built under the frost line, there is a large section of the South and Midwest where pumping systems are constructed above ground or above the frost line. For these systems, it’s important to take steps to keep your well safe and operating through the winter.

1. Get Your Well Inspected
NGWA and recommend an annual inspection of your water well system. If you haven't had your inspection done, scheduling before the winter weather arrives could save you a lot of time and money! Find a qualified contractor.

2. Protect Your Pump
Many well systems are buried deep underground, which provides protection from the cold. But for well owners with above ground pumps, action should be taken to keep the system insulated and warm. Constructing a small insulated enclosure covering the pump will help keep the system above 32 degrees and reduce the risk of freezing and other damage. This small “well house” can save thousands of dollars in repairs and ensure a well operates throughout a cold winter. Find a qualified contractor.

3. Protect Your Pipes
As water freezes, it expands and can burst your pipes, leading to significant damage to your home and well. Frozen pipes are a common winter issue for homeowners, but can be avoided with a few easy steps. 
  • Turn off your exterior water and blow out your pipes. Ideally your house will have a shut-off valve for its exterior water supply. If so, turn off any water that flows to outside irrigation systems and faucets. Once you have turned the water off, then drain the remaining water or use an air compressor to blow out the pipes. If you don't have a shut-off valve, find a local contractor for other options to shutting off exterior water.
  • Insulate your pipes. For houses with piping that runs through non-heated spaces like basements, we suggest insulating pipes. Wrapping pipes with rubber casings or fiberglass insulation can keep their temperature above freezing and the water flowing.
  • Inspect your pipes. This is a great time to do a general inspection of your water system and piping. Spotting a problem in your system now could save you from a costly problem this winter. Find a certified contractor to schedule an inspection.

4. Prepare for a Power Outage 
While there is little that can be done by the homeowner to prevent power outages due to winter weather, there are steps to take so you have water to drink while waiting for the lights to come back on.
  • Always have a portable gas generator and plenty of gas to connect to your pumping system.
  • Stock up on bottled water before the winter; this way if there is a prolonged outage, you can still have clean drinking water in the house.
  • Contact a local contractor to learn more about backup generators and other options to keep your water flowing during a power outage.
Adapted from

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Water Inside Us}

Did you know that humans are made up of 60-70% water? Water helps blood flow easily, food digest in your body, and allows toxins to be filtered through your liver and kidneys before flushing them out as waste. People like you need to drink water and eat things with lots of water in them (like watermelon and strawberries and cucumbers and celery!) to keep our bodies happy and healthy.

Humans aren't the only living things made up of water - so are fish like Frannie! Fish, on average, have are made up of 78-85% water, just a little higher than humans.  Frannie has a fun activity you can do to illustrate just how much of your body contains water particles.

All you need is a few simple things:
  • A large piece of paper, big enough for you to lay down on
  • Markers/crayons/colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • A friend or family member to help
  1. Set the large piece of paper on the ground and lay on top of it.
  2. Have your friend trace your outline onto the paper with a marker.
  3. Measure the total height of the outline and multiply by 0.70 in order to find the height of 70% of your body. If you don't have a ruler, you can estimate 70% of your body by dividing your outline into quarter and drawing a line a bit below the 3/4 mark.
  4. Using a blue marker or coloring utensil, color in 70% of your body.
  5. You can color in the remaining 30% of your body with another color or leave it blank.
  6. Cut out your outline and either hang it next to you on a wall or lay down beside it.

Look at how much of you contains water! It's in your bones, your blood, your skin, your belly, and even your eyes! Seeing how much of our bodies are made up of water helps us understand why always having a clean drinking water source is so important.

Friday, October 11, 2019

BLOG: Lee Orton to Be Honored with Groundwater Industry Award

Lee Orton
Lee Orton, J.D., President of Orton Management Association in Lincoln, Nebraska, will receive the Ross L. Oliver Award from the National Ground Water Association (NGWA). The Ross L. Oliver Award is NGWA’s most prestigious award and is presented to those who have made outstanding contributions to the groundwater industry.

The award will be presented to Mr. Orton at Groundwater Week in Las Vegas on December 5, 2019.

After graduating law school, Orton began his career in the natural resources and groundwater industry by developing the State Water Plan of Nebraska in 1969. Shortly after, he became the first Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) where he successfully managed the merging of 153 local government groups into 24 natural resource districts.

After a decade with NARD, Orton began his private law practice where he played a pivotal role in Nebraska's well drilling industry. Working with the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, Orton would draft and help pass a new law through the Nebraska Legislature which created a well professional’s license and  a state level governing board to oversee the licensing process.

Orton would go on to become the first Executive Director of the Nebraska Well Drillers Association where he would be hired by the state government to draft new rules and regulations of well drilling licensure.

"Lee has dedicated himself to protecting and conserving groundwater throughout his distinguished career," said Jane Griffin of the Groundwater Foundation, who worked closely with Lee for several years when he served as a member of the Foundation's board of directors. "What has moved him above and beyond is his passion for his work on behalf of groundwater."

Orton has long proved to be an invaluable resource and advocate for the groundwater industry. He was instrumental in the formation of NGWA’s Government Affairs Committee as well as organizing the first Washington, D.C. Fly-In which allowed NGWA members to directly lobby their lawmakers.
Orton remains one of NGWA’s strongest advocates in state and federal government affairs.

Orton received the Kremer Award in 2011.
"Lee has the aptitude and demeanor to bring those from all water disciplines – surface and groundwater, contractors, scientist, engineers, consultants, etc. together with regulators and politicians to navigate the legislative processes at the state and federal level for the wise and beneficial use of the resource. He has (still is) dedicated his entire career to the beneficial management of our most precious natural resource, water!' stated nominator Thomas Downey, CWD/PI, President of Downey Drilling Inc. in Nebraska and Past President of NGWA.

Orton also received the Maurice Kremer Groundwater Achievement Award from the Groundwater Foundation in 2011.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

BLOG: Groundwater and Your Body

Groundwater is literally part of you.

It's the water many of us drink, and when it's in our bodies, it helps support processes that keep us healthy and thriving.

Our brains and hearts are 73% water. Lungs? About 83% water. Other major parts of our bodies are mostly water, including our skin (64%), muscles (79%), and kidneys (79%).

We all need to drink water every single day to survive. Adults need somewhere around 2-3 liters of water each day (some of this comes from food). Why? Because it does a number of amazing things in our bodies.

Source: USGS

  • It forms saliva and aids in digestion
  • It keeps all mucosal membranes moist and healthy
  • It's an essential piece of every single cell in our bodies
  • It helps flush waste from our bodies
  • It keeps our joints moving comfortably
  • It keeps our body temperature regulated by making us sweat
  • It's a shock absorber for our brains and spinal cords
  • It's used by our brains to make hormones and signals to keep our systems operating
  • It helps deliver oxygen throughout our bodies

Water is "sticky," which comes from its surface tension, and this plays a part in our bodies being able to move materials from our toes to our head and everywhere in between.

This is just one more way groundwater is magical - it helps keep us healthy and thriving! How will you help protect this amazing resource?

Adapted from "The Water in You" at

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Upcycle: Toilet Paper Roll Bat Decorations}

It's finally October! Do you know what that means? Halloween is right around the corner!

You can make this Halloween fun and sustainable by upcycling a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll into one of Frannie's favorite spooky decorations: flying bats! Hang them in any room in your house and even outside, as long as they don't get wet!

Before you get started, you'll need to gather some supplies: toilet paper or paper towel rolls; black paint; white paint, googly eyes, or other eye-shaped stickers, the creepier the better; brushes; black paper; scissors; and glue. If you would like to make your bats look like they are flying at you, you will also need string and a hole punch.

If you're using a paper towel roll, you will need to cut it into three smaller pieces that are about the size of a toilet paper roll.

1. If you want to hang your bats from your door handle or tree limbs, start by punching 2 holes on either side of the roll and thread your string through.

2. Fold the ends of the empty toilet paper roll in together. You may need to secure the folds with glue.

3. Paint the roll black. While it's drying, cut out bat wings from the paper. You can cut the wings individually or as one whole piece. Either way, make sure to leave some space between the wings or a tab at the end of a wing so you can glue them to the back of the roll.

4. Once the glue is dry, bend the wings back just enough so that they stick out from bat.

5. Now it's time for the eyes. You can either glue on googly eyes, place the eye stickers. If you're painting the eyes, start by painting on small white ovals. When the white paint dries, dab a small circle of black paint for the pupils.

6. Display your bat where everyone can see!

Have a very Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, September 27, 2019

BLOG: Emergency Management and Drinking Water Protection Workshop

The effects of the historic flooding Nebraska experienced this spring are still being felt all these months later, and will continue to be felt into the future. A natural disaster such as this is a good opportunity to look at contingency planning for community drinking water supplies in the event of an emergency.

Image credit: Nebraska State Patrol

The Nebraska Wellhead Protection Network is hosting a workshop on the subject October 3, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Valley Irrigation (28800 Ida Street, Valley, Nebraska) and invites you to join us. "Emergency Management and Contingency Planning to Protect Nebraska's Water Supply" will cover:

  • Why having a comprehensive emergency management plan is important
  • How to develop an emergency management plan
  • Stories of how towns and businesses survived Nebraska's flooding this spring
The agenda includes:
Lunch and a tour of Valley's facilities, which were impacted by spring flooding, are generously provided by Valley Irrigation.

Join us and help your community be prepared for emergencies! Register by October 1.

Questions? Contact the Groundwater Foundation at or 402-434-2740.