Illustration of a city with a river, lake, and underground aquiferGroundwater is a primary source of water for communities all over the world. These communities rely on groundwater as water for drinking and other domestic uses, agriculture, industry, and more.

A clean, sustainable groundwater supply is essential for communities to grow and thrive, making groundwater protection of utmost importance.

There are many ways your community can help protect its groundwater supply. Get yourself and your community involved as part of the solution to preserving this vital resource!

Groundwater is important to all of us. It’s the water we drink, it grows the food on our table, and it nourishes our communities. Because we all benefit from groundwater, let’s keep it clean and raise awareness in our communities about this vital resource.

How You Can Raise Awareness

  • Post information on your Facebook page – You can start the conversation by liking The Groundwater Foundation on Facebook.
  • Tweet about it – Use your 140 characters to share information about groundwater. Get ideas by following us on Twitter.
  • Include information in newsletters – Share the groundwater message in your company, school, organization, or other newsletters. Check out The Aquifer for topic ideas.
  • Share at a meeting – Make groundwater a topic of discussion at your next civic organization, book club, travel club, parent group, or another meeting.

Use the Media

Work with local media outlets to share the groundwater message as PSAs.

Special thanks to KOLN/KGIN, Nebraska Educational Television, Geoffrey Hartig, and Bailey Lauerman for their assistance in producing these messages.

You CAN make a difference in your town by educating people about the water they drink every day! Here are some ideas for projects that kids and adults can do in their hometown. The ideas listed here are just to start you thinking; you are encouraged to develop your own!

Groundwater Education Activities

  • Teach the people in your community where their drinking water comes from, why it is vulnerable to contamination, and provide ideas for ways they can protect their water. Find out more about source water assessment and protection.
  • Host a Test Your Well event for your community. This event allows well owners to have their water screened for common contaminants such as nitrates and offers opportunities to raise awareness on pollution prevention.
  • Hold a “Mini-Groundwater Festival” for local residents. Teams could demonstrate groundwater concepts using activities in “Making Discoveries,” The Groundwater Gazette, or by creating their own! Topics could include the water cycle, groundwater basics, local groundwater, and groundwater in other states and countries.
  • Lead a groundwater education campaign. Activities could include: speaking to a local government board or council; creating and distributing educational posters, brochures, and newsletters throughout the community; being interviewed on a local TV station; and writing and recording a public service announcement for a local radio station.

Water Conservation Activities

  • Design and install a rain garden for your school to capture rainwater and reduce stormwater pollution. Ask your local nursery for design help and the donation of plants.
  • Check your home/school/business for leaky faucets, showerheads, and toilets. Calculate the amount of wasted water and have the leaks repaired.
  • Research the availability and cost of water conservation equipment for the home/school/business. Replace appliances with environmentally friendly models when appropriate.

Pollution Prevention Awareness Activities

  • Prevent groundwater pollution from occurring in the first place by teaching people how to keep water safe for all of us!
  • Stencil messages on storm drains to help prevent chemicals and oil from being dumped down them. These chemicals pollute both surface and groundwater and are dangerous to aquatic plants and animals.
  • Design and distribute posters or fliers in the community which educate residents about the hazards of abandoned wells and how they should be properly filled.
  • Share conservation messages that encourage the wise use of groundwater supplies. Examples could include performing a play or writing a comic book about water conservation.

Community Water History Awareness Activities

  • Investigate and share the history of your community’s successes and challenges in finding adequate and safe water supplies.
  • Check local newspaper archives (at the newspaper’s office or at the library) to find stories from the past about your community’s water supply, including natural disasters which may have affected the supply.
  • Interview senior residents about memories of your community finding safe water supplies through the years.
  • Make a map showing your community’s water supply source. Display maps at schools, public libraries, and grocery stores.

Sign that says Wellhead protection means protecting the area surrounding public drinking water supply wells, and in turn, protecting drinking water supplies. Groundwater is and will continue to be the source of drinking water for many communities. Protection of this vital resource is important! For example, expanding development may bring with it more potential sources of contamination; growing populations may stress the quantity of water available; and intensive agricultural practices may increase the need for more proactive management strategies.

Whether faced with an existing impairment to the water source or seeking ways to prevent contamination, wellhead protection makes good economic and environmental sense!

Each state has a different approach to wellhead protection, but in general, wellhead protection involves:

  • Map of wellhead protection areaDelineating the Wellhead Protection Area – A map is drawn to illustrate groundwater flow, time-of-travel zones, and geographic boundaries to determine the land area that could influence groundwater. The area is determined from information such as the geologic makeup of the aquifer the well draws from and the well’s pumping capacity.
  • Conducting a Potential Contaminant Source Inventory – An inventory of all potential sources of drinking water contaminants is conducted, usually compiled from existing state regulatory databases and on-the-ground observations. Common potential contaminants can include agricultural, commercial, industry, and other practices.
  • Contaminant Source Management – The potential contaminant sources identified during the inventory should be managed in a way to prevent any groundwater contamination. Local communities have many options, including ordinances, zoning restrictions, land purchases, conservation easements, voluntary actions, encouragement of best management practices, and local government cooperative efforts.
  • Contingency Planning – Wellhead protection includes having a plan in place to provide a replacement source of drinking water in the event of a well shut-down due to contamination, natural disaster, major mechanical or physical breakdown, vandalism, or other identified cause. The plan often includes short-term temporary sources of drinking water and options for long-term water sources, such as a new well.
    Public Education – The public should be informed throughout the wellhead protection process, and involved in efforts to protect groundwater and drinking water. Efforts can include making the wellhead protection plan available for public review, holding public meetings, and outreach through mailings and media.

Management Makes Sense

Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) Management is the next step communities can take after developing a wellhead protection plan. This step leads communities through identifying management strategies that will have the greatest effect on reducing the threat of contamination to their drinking water source. The Groundwater Foundation, in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, developed a Wellhead Protection Area Management Planning Manual as a step-by-step guide to completing the process.