Everyone can and should do something to protect groundwater.
Why? We all have a stake in maintaining its quality and quantity:
- For starters, 95% of all available freshwater comes from underground aquifers. Being a good steward of groundwater just makes sense.
- Not only that, most surface water bodies are connected to groundwater, meaning it influences the quantity and quality of water in our rivers and lakes.
- Many public drinking water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater (pdf). In Oregon, that's 90% of the population! Protecting this resource protects the public's water supply and keeps treatment costs down.
- In Oregon, one billion gallons of groundwater are withdrawn every day.
- If your family, farm, or business gets its water from a private well, groundwater protection is doubly important. You are the manager of your own water system. Protecting groundwater will reduce risks to your water supply.
There are two fundamental categories of groundwater protection:
1. Every person can help address the top human causes of groundwater contamination:
- Keeping it safe from contamination and
- Using it wisely by not wasting it.
2. To be a responsible water steward, here are a few simple things you can do every day:
- Improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances can allow them to percolate into the groundwater. To dispose of pollutants properly:
- Use fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides properly.
- Properly build and maintain septic systems.
- Water wells can act as a direct conduit from the surface to the groundwater below. Be sure to properly site and construct new wells and properly abandon (pdf) wells that are no longer in use.
- Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed.
- Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator.
- Shut off the water while brushing your teeth.
- Take shorter showers.
- Run full loads of dishes and laundry.
- Water lawn and plants only as needed.
- Install rain barrels for irrigation purposes.