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Awareness week offers facts about nation's groundwater

Mar. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Groundwater is a natural resource that impacts many Americans' lives, yet few people are knowledgeable about it, according to the National Ground Water Association.

"The problem is that people cannot be a good steward of something they don't understand," NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens said in a news release. "But it's never too late to learn, and there is no better time to learn about groundwater than during National Groundwater Awareness Week, which takes place March 10-16 this year."

Ninety-nine percent of all available freshwater in the world is groundwater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That means all the world's rivers, lakes, and streams make up only 1 percent. "There is no other way to put it -- groundwater is vital to meeting human and environmental needs, often in ways most people don't realize," Treyens said. For example:

On average, 30 percent of all streamflow in the United States is from groundwater, the USGS estimates.

As much as 90 percent of the population in rural areas would have no reliable water source if it weren't for private household water wells that tap groundwater.

Agricultural irrigation in some of the most productive farmland in America would not be possible without an abundance of groundwater.

Many ecosystems would disappear without sufficient groundwater feeding surface water bodies.

"Many citizens have no idea that all or part of the water they drink from public water systems may include groundwater," Treyens said. "The states and, therefore, our nation have an enormous dependence on groundwater."

To learn more, visit the National Groundwater Awareness Week Web page located at www.NGWA.org/AwarenessWeek or NGWA's Web site for household water well owners, www.WellOwner.org