September 1st is Protect Your Groundwater Day. This event was started to raise awareness about the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater. For well owners, this means regular testing and maintenance. For businesses that operate that operate groundwater systems of all kinds, this means being responsible about the surrounding environment, potential contaminants, and water conservation efforts where possible.
The protection of groundwater is crucial to keep safe levels of freshwater available for human consumption, as nearly 99% of all available freshwater comes from underground aquifers (source). Treatment costs can also be significantly reduced when responsible methods of protection and treatment are used.
So what does this mean for most of us? How can we help protect this resource? If you use well water, you're in a unique position to observe how the natural environment might be affecting your well water supply, and what you can do about it. Poorly constructed wells, septic system malfunctions, and proximity to contaminated areas can cause well water to become both unsuitable for consumption and harm the area around the well. Understanding the maintenance and care involved in drilling and/or owning a well can help avoid environmentally costly mistakes or mistakes that could affect the water quality permanently.
If you don't own, use, or plan or using well water, you can still help! Here are some easy ways to ensure that you don't contribute to groundwater contamination:
1. Store and dispose of hazardous materials in a safe and secure manner according to product guidelines
2. Use fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides responsibly; avoid when possible and be sure to use these only in the area where they are absolutely necessary
3. If you have a septic system that you are responsible for maintaining, take all precautions to avoid leaks by getting your system regularly serviced and pumped.
4. Be mindful of your everyday water usage and cut back where you can; water conservation can be just as helpful as other activities!
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