MADISON - Wisconsin citizens can join in a live chat and read a new report about groundwater quality and quantity in Wisconsin as the state marks national Protect Your Groundwater Day Sept. 10.
"Seventy percent of Wisconsin residents rely on groundwater for their drinking water supply, and maintaining clean, safe groundwater is essential for a healthy Wisconsin," says Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Mary Ellen Vollbrecht, who leads the Department of Natural Resources groundwater section, says that Protect Your Groundwater Day, promoted by the National Groundwater Association, "is a great time to learn more about our groundwater and how we can all help protect a resource critical for healthy families, a healthy environment and a healthy economy."
"We invite people to join our live chat to get their questions answered, to read through the latest Groundwater Coordinating Council annual report, and to take steps around their home to help protect groundwater," Vollbrecht says.
The live chat on groundwater, private wells and public drinking water supplies is set for noon on Sept. 10; participate on that day by visiting dnr.wi.gov and look for the box on the right to enter the chat, or search the phrase "ask the experts." People also can join the conversation via DNR's Facebook page and by clicking the Cover it Live Chat" box at the top.
People can learn more about current groundwater conditions in Wisconsin from the recently released 2013 annual report from the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council. The council, or GCC as it's often called, includes representatives from state agencies and the University of Wisconsin system and is responsible for ensuring that the state's groundwater research and policies are coordinated and cost-effective and that state agencies provide consistent communications with the public.
The annual GCC report provides the current status of groundwater quality and quantity for Wisconsin, an assessment of the groundwater management programs, addresses current and anticipated groundwater problems, and recommends actions for addressing those problems.
Groundwater users capable of withdrawing 100,000 gallons a day are required to report their use. In 2011, groundwater withdrawals reported to DNR totaled 213 billion gallons from 11,754 wells. The largest category of groundwater withdrawals was public water supply, accounting for 42 percent of the total statewide groundwater withdrawals [PDF]]. The second largest category of groundwater withdrawal in the state was agricultural irrigation accounting for 35 percent of statewide groundwater withdrawals.
Steve Ales, who leads DNR's private water section, says that owners of private wells can make a difference in their water quality by how they manage their well systems and septic systems, by properly managing hazardous wastes, and by conserving water.
People who use municipal tap water also can help protect groundwater quality by properly managing hazardous wastes, maintaining their septic systems properly if they have one, conserving water, and advocating with local officials to safeguard municipal wells by being careful about the land uses surrounding those wells.
People using private wells:
For those on public water supplies:
Things everyone can do:
More information on groundwater and drinking water can be found on the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, by searching for "drinking water" and on the DHS Water Issues Website: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/Water (exit DNR).
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Irving, DHS, 608-266-2663; Mary Ellen Vollbrecht, DNR, 608-266-2104