Groundwater Week recognizes valuable resource

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Subtract one component from Nebraska's natural resources, and you'd have a very different state.

Without the massive Ogallala Aquifer, "The Great American Desert" might be just that, suitable at best for grasslands instead of the crops irrigated by the wells and reservoirs at the heart of the Republican River Compact dispute.

Nebraskans may appreciate groundwater more than most Americans -- we know our livelihoods depend on it. That's probably why Lincoln, Nebraska, is home to the Groundwater Foundation, which is joining the National Ground Water Association in observing National Groundwater Awareness Week this week.

According to the national association, the United States uses 79.6 billion gallons of fresh groundwater per day for public and private supplies, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power and other purposes.

If our math is correct, that's about 267 gallons a day for each of 300 million people in America.

The Ogallala Aquifer, which covers 174,000 square miles and underlies 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States, is better appreciated today than in years past, but like all groundwater sources, deserves increased conservation and protection.

Farm programs aimed at conservation and reduction of pollution have been in place for years, but there are still steps we as individuals need to take to protect the supply of groundwater for future generations.

Some of the ideas:

* Take short showers instead of baths.

* Run full loads of dishes and laundry.

Decrease or eliminate fertilizer and pesticide usage -- and that includes your lawn and garden.

* Water outside only when necessary.

* Check for leaky faucets and repair them.

* Disposing of chemicals properly by taking them to recycling center.

* Teaching others about ways to protect and preserve water.

More information about The Groundwater Foundation is available by calling (800) 858-4844 or visit www.groundwater.org.

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