(WESTERVILLE, OH — March 9, 2012) There is something every person can do to be a good steward of groundwater — the largest source of available freshwater in America and the world — during National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17.
The National Ground Water Association is urging the public to help preserve and protect groundwater for human and environmental purposes. Following are five keys to being a good groundwater or water well steward.
First, properly store, use, and dispose of hazardous household substances. These include, but are not limited to, petroleum products, paints and paint thinners, fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides, and cleaning products.
Proper use means always following the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not overapply products. Store hazardous household substances in sealed containers in a secure place. Do not dump them on the ground, or pour them down the drain or toilet. Instead, contact local waste authorities about proper disposal.
Second, survey your property for any abandoned wells, particularly if you live in a rural area. An abandoned well that has not been properly “decommissioned” can be a direct pathway for contamination into the aquifer. If you find an abandoned well, contact a qualified water well system contractor to properly decommission it if necessary.
Third, if you have a septic system, have it checked regularly by a qualified septic system contractor. A failing septic system may present a contamination threat to the groundwater.
Americans are some of the largest users of water, per capita, in the world using 79.6 billion gallons of groundwater daily — the equivalent of 2,923 12-ounce cans for every man, woman, and child. About 75 percent of water used inside the home occurs in the bathroom. Outdoor water use varies greatly across the country from 44 percent in California to only 7 percent in Pennsylvania.
Tips for conserving water include:
Ideally, a well’s location should be determined with a contractor or hydrogeologist before the home is built. A qualified water well system contractor will be familiar with state or local well construction codes, including those pertaining to separation distances from potential contamination sources. To learn more, visit www.wellower.org.
NGWA recommends an annual well system maintenance checkup by a qualified water well system contractor to reduce risks to the water supply and prevent costly and inconvenient breakdowns.
Water treatment equipment should be serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Also, every well owner should periodically check the well cover or cap, and the well casing above the ground, to make sure they are in good shape.
Testing the water is one of the well owner’s most important responsibilities. Here are some basic steps the well owner can take.
First, determine if the well is clean. A dirty well, for instance one with accumulated sediment or debris at the bottom, can create an environment suitable to bacterial growth and impair effective disinfection. A qualified water well system contractor can determine if the water well system needs cleaning.
Next, check with appropriate state or local authorities about any area-specific water testing recommendations.
Generally, NGWA recommends well owners annually test for bacteria, nitrate, and anything of local concern. The water should be tested more frequently if there is a:
When seeking a qualified water testing lab, contact your state drinking water testing lab certification officer. You also can check with your local health department, or check the “Water Quality” section of NGWA’s Web site, www.wellowner.org.
Upon receiving test results, ask the lab if there are any contaminants that present a health risk — or check with an appropriate public health or water regulation agency. You also can check your test results against the U.S. EPA’s maximum contaminant levels.
Should any contaminants above levels of health concern remain after proper maintenance, talk to a qualified water well system contractor about options such as installing a new well, rehabilitating the well, or installing a water treatment technology to address the specific water quality issues.
To learn more, visit NGWA’s Awareness Week Web page or its Web site for well owners, www.wellowner.org.
NGWA, a nonprofit organization composed of U.S. and international groundwater professionals — contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, and engineers — is dedicated to advancing groundwater knowledge. NGWA’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association that advocates the responsible development, management, and use of water.
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National Ground Water Association
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Westerville, OH 43081
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