DNR Supports Groundwater Awareness Week With Focus On Sustainability
FROM WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
MADISON, Wis. – With eyes focused on the future, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is stressing the importance of investing in the next generation of groundwater professionals during National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 9-13.
Held by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) since 1999, the week-long observance aims to highlight the responsible development, management and use of groundwater. It also serves as a platform to promote yearly well testing and maintenance to prevent waterborne illnesses. This year’s focus is on the importance of building a foundation for the future sustainability of our groundwater.
“By focusing on the future of groundwater professionals, we ensure the sustainability of our shared groundwater resource. Professionals in this field encompass a variety of occupations within the industry, such as water well drillers, hydrogeologists, engineers, groundwater scientists and educators,” said DNR Groundwater Section Chief Bruce Rheineck.
Since 2001, the DNR has provided annual training on the use of a groundwater sand tank model to educators from schools or nature centers around the state. In 2020, the DNR held two workshops and trained more than 40 educators who are selected through a competitive application process. Participants receive:
- a one-day training session;
- a groundwater flow model and instructions;
- classroom exercises designed to meet state academic standards; and
- reimbursement for substitute teachers while at the training.
Since the program began, more than 1,200 educators from nearly 650 schools or nature centers have received training through this program and received a free model.
The Groundwater Foundation created a fun and educational groundwater kit to inspire the next generation of groundwater professionals. The Awesome Aquifer Kit includes hands-on activities and supplies to teach students about groundwater. The kit sells for $40 and is available at awesomeaquifer.com.
The DNR continues to provide resources to better educate Wisconsinites about the importance of having clean groundwater. It also calls attention to the challenges in keeping one of the world’s most valuable resources safe for human consumption and on lessening the environmental impact contaminated water has on drinking water, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing and other industries and uses.
The DNR strongly encourages private well owners to take the time to test, treat and tend to their wells yearly to protect themselves from potentially consuming contaminated water. For more information on drinking water supply testing procedures and how to read test results, visit the DNR’s well water testing webpage.
With the guidance and support of Gov. Tony Evers, the DNR took actionable steps in 2019 to protect Wisconsin’s water supply. That effort continues into 2020, with rulemaking being undertaken to develop new, enforceable PFAS standards for drinking, surface and groundwater to protect human health. Rulemaking through NR 151 will reduce nitrate contamination by establishing targeted performance standards for sensitive areas of the state most susceptible to groundwater contamination.
The DNR has provided a portion of the funding, along with counties, to study groundwater in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties, where 44% of residents draw water from private wells.