Groundwater Awareness Week
Questions and Answers
Q: I don't have a water well in my back yard. Why should I care about groundwater?
A: Whether you have your own well or not, the odds are even that your drinking water comes ultimately from groundwater. An estimated 50 percent of Americans get their drinking water from groundwater, and 75 percent of American cities rely upon groundwater for public water supplies. The water you drink may come from a well, whether you realize it or not.
Q: What is groundwater, anyway?
A: Groundwater is simply that it is water that exists underground in the tiny spaces between rocks and soil particles. The term aquifer refers to an underground geologic formation that is able to store and yield water.
Q: How does groundwater get to the surface?
A: Groundwater is an important component of the hydrologic cycle. Water evaporates into the air, condenses into clouds, returns to earth as precipitation. Water runoff then soaks into the soil, penetrating deep underground. Groundwater flows through aquifers to a point where it then discharges into lakes or streams. The process is circular. We also drill wells that tap into aquifers and bring the water to the surface.
Q: If its underground, we dont have to worry about it, right?
A: Wrong. Groundwater is susceptible to contamination from a number of sources manmade contaminants, malfunctioning septic systems, landfills. Over time, pollutants penetrate the ground and can foul aquifers, thus polluting valuable sources of drinking water.
Q: How do we protect groundwater?
A: The North Dakota Department of Health's Division of Water Quality is the primary state agency responsible for safeguarding our water supply. At the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency issues strict regulations regarding underground injection wells and water quality. The Groundwater Protection Council is a national organization that serves as a forum for state water regulators and technical experts to protect and conserve groundwater.