Leah Zacaroli - Mandala School Teacher

What is groundwater? 

  1. When precipitation falls, it follows the slope of the land as runoff and enters streams, rivers, and lakes. Some of the water seeps into the ground. It funnels between the cracks in rocks and particles of sand, clay, and silt until it reaches the saturated zone. 

Why is groundwater important? 

  1. Over 50% of the United States population depends on groundwater for drinking water. 

  2. With rising temperatures, more surface water is evaporating. This is leading humans to rely more on groundwater sources, which is being pumped faster than it is recharged. 

  3. Groundwater is also one of our most important sources of water for irrigation. 

What are the causes of groundwater contamination?

  1. Storage tank leaks, poorly managed septic systems, landfill leakage,  uncontrolled fertilizer and road salt runoff, and more!

What are the risks of depleted groundwater? 

  1. Groundwater depletion will cause a lowering of the water table, making it more difficult to reach water below the surface. This will in turn cause an increase in the cost of water since more energy will be needed to pump it. 

  2. In some places in the United States the water table has dropped dozens of meters. This can cause  soil collapses, compacts, and drops that lead to destruction of habitats and infrastructure. Water that is found deeper, within the lower layers, has higher quantities of dangerous elements like arsenic or radon. 

  3. Saltwater intrusion: excessive pumping can also lead to salt water moving inland and upward, contaminating the ground supply. The salt water will flow into aquifer pore spaces that were previously occupied by freshwater.

  4. The increased cost of pumping groundwater water from depleted aquifers has caused farmers to stop planting crops or to only plant crops requiring low amounts of water, like wheat. 

  5. Rivers and streams receive water from both surface water and from a high water table. If overdrafts of groundwater drop the water table below the surface, rivers can seasonally dry up, destroying the habitat.

What can we do to help? (Taken from

  1. 1.Go Native
    Use native plants in your landscape. They look great, and don't need much water or fertilizer. Also choose grass varieties for your lawn that are adapted for your region's climate, reducing the need for extensive watering or chemical applications.

  2. 2.Reduce Chemical Use
    Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly - don't dump them on the ground!

  3. 3.Manage Waste
    Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites - contact your local health department to find one near you. 

    1. 1.Where to dispose of hazardous materials?

  4. 4.Don't Let It Run & Fix the Drip!
    Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or shaving, and don't let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead. Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away, or install water conserving models.

  5. 5.Wash Smarter & Water Wisely
    Limit yourself to just a five minute shower, and challenge your family members to do the same! Also, make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washer. Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it. Make sure you, your family, and your neighbors obey any watering restrictions during dry periods.

  6. 6.Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

  7. 7.Natural Alternatives
    Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.

  8. 8.Learn and Do More!
    Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others. Vote for local and national politicians that are committed to environmental issues.