Do you know where your drinking water comes from?
You may be thinking, I’m on city water, not a well; but in fact forty-four percent of American’s water comes from wells in the ground! Many municipalities and utilities use wells in addition to surface waters.
Groundwater originates from rain that travels on land surfaces entering streams and rivers, and also percolates through soils and ends in underground aquifers that we tap into. Our water is essentially all connected and all recycled. This connectivity of water emphasizes the importance of protecting this critical resource, and further, that we can all play a role, which is why we are also observing Protect Your Groundwater Day, held this week on Sept. 3.
Many of our everyday activities can affect water quality of either ground or surface waters. What we put down our drains, where and how we wash our cars, what we throw away, the fertilizer we use, salting our roads or sidewalks — these and many other activities can negatively influence our water. Sure, some of water we use is treated, but not all contamination may be removed, and it all eventually ends up in our ground or surface waters.
Conserve and Protect
So what can we each do to be better stewards of water? A few simple practices go a long way. Conserve water by fixing leaking faucets, turn water off while brushing your teeth, use high efficiency appliances that use less water, limit shower time, use a rain barrel or rain garden outside and irrigate your lawn less. Recycle unwanted cleaners, fuels, paints, and prescriptions rather than dumping or flushing down toilet. If you have a septic tank, have it pumped every three to five years.
Remember, regardless of where you live and where your water comes from, much of what we do influences water quality. So think before you act and do your part in protecting our waters.
For more information on ensuring a clean and safe groundwater system, go to https://extension.umd.edu/well-and-septic.