Seventy-five percent of Wisconsin residents depend on groundwater for daily needs

Groundwater Awareness Week, Mar. 7-13, highlights importance of resource

 Contact: Kevin Masarik, (715)346-4276, kmasarik@uwsp.edu

Stevens Point, Wis.–Groundwater Awareness Week (March 7 – 13) reminds us to pay extra attention to how much water we use.

Wisconsin relies heavily on its groundwater resources. In fact, groundwater is the water source for 95 percent of Wisconsin communities and 100 percent of homes with wells. This means that nearly 75 percent of the state’s residents depend on groundwater for their daily water needs.

Groundwater supplies almost all water for the state’s agricultural industry, nearly one-third of all industrial uses and half of the commercial interests that use water.

People aren’t the only ones that rely on groundwater; it also supplies most of the water to our state’s lake, river and wetland ecosystems–resources that not only add to the state’s high quality of life, but are critical to Wisconsin’s popular tourism industry.

Because groundwater is a local resource, removing groundwater more quickly than it is replaced can create local and regional water quantity issues. Pumping large amounts of water from wells too close to surface waters can sometimes reduce the amount of water that would normally flow to springs and streams–less water in these resources can negatively affect the health of aquatic ecosystems. Pumping of the deep sandstone aquifers in parts of the state has caused significant drawdown of the confined aquifers in parts of southeastern, northeastern, and to a lesser extent, south-central Wisconsin near Madison.

Because of the problems created from overuse of groundwater, some areas of the state have begun taking a serious look at water conservation and revisiting how water is used.

Here are some simple steps homeowners and businesses can take to reduce the amount of water they consume each day:

–Fix leaky faucets or toilets. This can save 10-20 gallons of water per day.

–Install a new, low-flow showerhead and faucet. They consume about 40 percent less water than older models.

–Upgrade to a front-load, water-efficient washing machine. This not only drastically reduces water needed for doing laundry, but also cuts down on the time needed to dry clothing.

–Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect and store rain water from the roof of your home which can then be used to water your garden or lawn. Not only do rain barrels reduce the amount of water you use from your tap, they also help reduce stormwater runoff into lakes, rivers and streams. 

–Reuse water. Some homes and businesses practice water reuse, using water to its full potential. Plumbing systems can be designed to allow water from the shower or washing machine to be collected, treated and stored. This water can then be used for things such as watering the garden or flushing the toilet. A new publication from the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Onsite Water Reuse Systems: Using Water to its Full Potential (G3882), outlines the process for installing an on-site water reuse system in your home or business. It is available at http://bit.ly/8ZUdCi

Ultimately, using less water not only helps to conserve precious water resources—it also decreases energy costs by reducing the amount of energy needed to pump water out of the ground, as well as the energy used to heat water.

Visit http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/watersheds/gwweek.htm for a link to Center for Watershed Science and Education which contains additional information on water conservation in the home.

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