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Groundwater Awareness Week

Article #2


For Immediate Release
March 11, 2005

For More Information, Contact:

Carl Anderson

Division of Water Quality

North Dakota Department of Health

Phone: 701.328.5213

E-mail: cjanders@nd.gov


An Important Source of Surface Water


BISMARCK, N.D.  Surface water shapes the contours of our nation. Devils Lake, the Missouri River, that pond or creek you fished in as a child  surface water captures our attention and our imagination. A River Runs Through It. The Lady in the Lake. Islands in the Stream.


No one writes songs or stories about groundwater, but it is a vital component of surface water, an integral part of the ecosystem.


March 13 through 19 has been designated National Groundwater Awareness Week. In North Dakota, protecting groundwater is one of the primary functions of the North Dakota Department of Healths Division of Water Quality. Groundwater is found between soil particles and cracks in rocks underground, in formations known as aquifers.


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that groundwater comprises 40 percent to 50 percent of the total flow of small- and medium-sized surface streams. USGS estimates that as much as 40 percent of all surface stream flow in the United States can be attributed to groundwater. Groundwater is also a major source of water to lakes and wetlands.


The hydrologic cycle begins when the process of evaporation releases water vapor into the atmosphere. The vapor condenses as it forms into clouds. This water returns to the ground through precipitation  rain. Water runoff soaks into the soil, penetrating deep into the ground until it becomes groundwater, which is found in aquifers below the surface. Groundwater flows through the ground until it discharges into a lake or stream. From there, the cycle begins again.


Most people would not think of dumping anything into a lake or stream for fear of polluting the water. But its important to remember that hazardous substances dumped on the ground can ultimately contaminate groundwater  and the rest of the hydrologic cycle.


No one writes songs about groundwater. But everyone should be mindful of it, and takes steps to safeguard it.


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Please note: To access archived news releases and other information, visit the North Dakota Department of Health Press Room at https://health.nd.gov/news-media/.