Groundwater events pay homage to most important resource

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"The rain follows the plow."

Such was the deceptive slogan, or at least wishful thinking, that caused many early settlers to board a train for Southwest Nebraska in hopes of claiming a homestead and making a living on the farm.

No, rain didn't follow the plow, but few early settlers could imagine the vast resource of groundwater the lay beneath the prairie only recently vacated by buffalo and American Indians.

The immorality of that process is the topic for another time, but there's no question that groundwater resource needs to be nurtured now and in the future.

The Middle Republican Natural Resources District is organizing the 26th annual Southwest Nebraska Water Conference, set for Wednesday, March 14, at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds Community Building in McCook.

Appropriately enough, the event lands smack-dab in the middle of the National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 11-17.

The water conference began in 1987, when nitrate pollution was the hot topic, a problem the City of McCook struggled with for years before finally building a large, expensive, state-of-the-art water treatment plant to provide safe water to its citizens.

Thankfully, public education and other incentives have helped persuade producers to use only the amount of fertilizer that can be efficiently used up by their cropland before it settles into the groundwater.

Now, the emphasis is as much about quantity as quality, as Nebraska struggles to meet Kansas' demands under the Republican River Compact.

But it's not up to just farmers and ranchers to take care of our groundwater.

The Groundwater Association sponsors the annual awareness week to get the point across that no matter where you live, what you do, or even how old you are, you can make a difference.

Here are some of the ways:

Limit the amount of fertilizer used on your yard.

Sweep your walks or driveways rather than rinsing with water.

Take short showers.

Shut water off while brushing teeth.

Run only full loads of dishes and laundry.

Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed.

Water the grass during cooler hours of the day and only when the grass needs water.

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Dispose of chemicals and hazardous waste at local collection sites/events.

Plant native, low-water use plants in your yard.

If you own a well, have it tested every year.

Learn more about groundwater.

No, rain doesn't follow the plow; but with careful stewardship, neither does pollution or depletion of groundwater.

You can learn more about the Groundwater Foundation at www.groundwater.org.

You can learn more about the Southwest Nebraska Water Conference by calling (800) 873-5613.

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  • Maybe you could suggest that people plant a buffalo grass lawn, it uses less water that bluegrass, and never needs to be fertilized, Also, it only needs to be mowed 3 or 4 times a year, depending on how much rain comes.

    Also, share a shower with your wife....

    -- Posted by j_trail on Wed, Mar 7, 2012, at 7:37 PM
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