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We must protect, conserve groundwater
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Groundwater Day is Sept. 14. Wait a minute — don’t run and check your calendar! It’s not February; I said Groundwater Day, not Groundhog Day. Although the topic isn’t quite as exciting as the emergence of spring, groundwater is something we all need to pay attention to. Knowing how to keep our groundwater clean and pollution-free is up to all of us.
In case you’re wondering, groundwater is the water collecting or flowing under the surface in soil or permeable rock.
Why should you care about groundwater? We all have a stake in maintaining the quality and quantity of groundwater.
• 95 percent of all available fresh water comes from aquifers underground. Do you want clean, safe water to drink and use? Then protecting groundwater just makes sense.
• Most surface bodies of water are connected to groundwater sources, so how we use and abuse groundwater matters immensely.
• Many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater. Protecting or polluting groundwater can have an impact on treatment costs.
• If you own a well that provides water for your family, business or farm, protecting groundwater can reduce the risks to your water supply.
There are two ways to protect our groundwater:
• keep it safe from contamination
• don’t waste it
Human activities can pollute groundwater. Some common causes are:
• Improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances
• Improper use or excessive use of fertilizers, animal manure, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides
• Chemical spills
• Improperly built and/or maintained septic systems
• Improperly abandoned wells
• Poorly sited or constructed water wells
An emerging concern in recent years has been the increasing occurrence of trace amounts of residue from pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. Proper disposal strategies for these substances are increasingly being advocated. We are researching possible disposal collections and will be providing more information soon.
One thing is for sure: Do not follow the old advice and flush expired medicines down the toilet or wash them down the drain. Some pharmacies in Richmond Hill already have “take back” programs in place. We also hope to have some options soon in Liberty County.
The other important way to protect groundwater is through water conservation. Use it wisely and don’t waste it. Americans use more water per person than any nation in the world. Americans use 79.6 billion gallons of water per day! If you have ever had teenagers, you probably understand. When our sons were teens, I swear they seemed to be using that much just between the two of them.
The greatest amount of water used in households occurs in bathrooms. The other major consumption occurs with laundry and with kitchen tasks — particularly dishwashing. In many areas of the country, outdoor water usage also can consume a tremendous amount of water.
Agricultural irrigation is by far the largest user of groundwater, consuming 53.5 billion gallons a day. Public water systems and private household well systems combined use 18.3 billion gallons a day.
Water is a precious and valuable commodity. If you want to get a better idea of how much water your household uses, calculate your “water footprint,” and check out a variety of tips for using water wisely on the National Groundwater Association’s website at Do your part. Everyday actions can protect our groundwater on Sept. 14 and every day.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events:
• Saturday, Sept. 25: St. Catherines beach sweep.
• Saturday, Oct. 2: Recycle It! Fair for electronics and household items.
• Saturday, Oct. 23: Fifth Annual Rivers Alive Cleanups.
Also, if you’re interested in becoming a trainer for the adopt-a-stream program, call 880-4888 or e-mail

For more information, call 880-4888 or e-mail
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