The week of March 11 - 17, 2018 is National Groundwater Awareness Week. In Texas, groundwater provides 62% of all freshwater used, supplies 78% of the water used by agriculture, and is a source of drinking water (from both public and private wells) for over 11.14 million Texans.
In the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District which includes Ellis, Hill, Johnson, and Somervell counties well owners reported using almost 6 billion gallons of groundwater in 2016 alone. The majority of those gallons, approximately 83%, were pumped to provide water to homes, businesses, and schools. The second largest category of groundwater use in the four-county area was for manufacturing or industrial uses so many of us also depend on groundwater for our livelihood.
During this week of groundwater recognition, keep in mind the following facts about this hidden resource.
- Groundwater is found in the spaces between particles and cracks in underground rock in formations known as aquifers. Even though it is out of sight, groundwater should not be far out of mind.
- Although the groundwater in the aquifers beneath our feet (the Trinity and the Woodbine aquifers) is replenishable, it does so very slowly. Groundwater is recharged by precipitation falling on the surface of the land and seeping into the water-bearing layers of sand and gravel that make up the aquifers. It takes thousands of years for water to move through the tightly-compacted layers from where it can seep into the ground to where we are located.
- Pollutants that can contaminate rainwater seeping into the ground can also contaminate the aquifer it recharges.
- It is recommended that water wells be given an annual checkup to make sure equipment is in good working order especially in advance of peak water use times of the year (spring and summer). No one likes to be out of water especially during times when it is needed the most.
Texans are fortunate to have the advantage of vast natural resources, among them clean and safe sources of drinking water. However, to ensure these continued resources we must all take a greater role in protecting our sources of drinking water through conservation and pollution prevention.
Prairielands GCD may be able to help. For ideas on how to conserve water, visit the Prairielands GCD website at www.prairielandsgcd.org. And should you encounter incidents of water waste or water pollution, please contact the district office at (817) 556-2299.