Information on Your Waushara County

Protect Your Groundwater Day to be held Sept. 8

 

Everyone can and should do something to protect groundwater. Why?  We all have a stake in maintaining its quality and quantity because:

•99 percent of all available freshwater comes from aquifers underground. Being a good steward of groundwater just makes sense.  

•Most surface water bodies are connected to groundwater so how you impact groundwater matters to surface water bodies too.  

•Many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater, so protecting the resource protects the public water supply and impacts treatment costs.

•If you own a well to provide water for your family, farm, or business, groundwater protection is doubly important.  As a well owner, you are the manager of your own water supply system.  Protecting groundwater will help reduce risks to your water supply.  

There are two fundamental categories of groundwater protection.  Number One—Keep it safe from Contamination.  And Number Two—Use it wisely by not wasting it.  

Before examining what you can do to protect groundwater, you should know that sometimes substances that occur naturally in the environment affect the quality and safety of groundwater.  

The chemistry of the groundwater flowing into a well reflects what’s in the environment. If the natural quality of groundwater to be used for human consumption presents a health risk, water treatment will be necessary.  

Contamination comes from three main sources: microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites; radionuclides such as radium, radon, and uranium; and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and selenium.  

Human activities can pollute groundwater, and this is where every person can help protect it.  Some common human causes of groundwater contamination are:

•Improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances.

•Improper use of fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides.  

•Chemical spills.

•Improperly built or maintained septic systems.  

•Improperly abandoned wells.

•Poorly sited or constructed wells.  

An emerging concern in recent years has been the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. Research remains to be done to assess the health risks of trace amounts of these items, but it is still a good idea to keep these out of the groundwater stream whenever possible. So be sure to properly dispose of unused medications and grooming products.