Aug. 2, 2012, Westerville, OH – A congressional briefing led by the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS) has spotlighted the importance of monitoring
the nation’s ground water quantity and quality.
Aug. 2, 2012, Westerville, OH – A congressional briefing led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has spotlighted the importance of monitoring the nation’s ground water quantity and quality.
Bill Cunningham, acting chief of the USGS Office of Groundwater, represented USGS at the July 27 briefing.
Ground water is often referred to as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind resource, yet 78 per cent of community water systems, nearly all America’s private household wells, and 42 per cent of agricultural irrigation water are supplied by ground water.
There is no systematic nationwide monitoring of the nation’s ground water levels or quality to assist in planning for and minimizing impacts from shortages or supply disruptions. This lack of systematic ground water monitoring affects the country’s ability to address food, energy, economic, and drinking water security issues.
“If we think of an aquifer [ground water] as a bank account holding a precious resource, aquifer assessments combined with water level measurements allow us to understand how much water is in our account [aquifer], and how our account balance is changing over time,” Cunningham said.
“Water level measurements are the most basic element for knowing our account balance. Repeated measurements over a long time period can be used to produce a ‘hydrograph’ of these water levels over time,” he said.
U.S. representative Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) echoed the need to monitor the nation’s groundwater resources.
“Every day, millions of Americans rely on ground water sources for their drinking water, including nearly 80 per cent of Minnesotans. The National Ground Water Monitoring Network is a critical resource,” she said. “Congress must continue to do everything possible to ensure our nation’s drinking water remains a safe and plentiful resource.”
In addition to Cunningham, briefing participants included:
• Kevin Rein, deputy state engineer, Colorado Division of Water Resources
• Robert Schreiber, vice-president, CDM Smith, representing the American Society of Civil Engineers
• Chris Reimer, government affairs director, National Ground Water Association.
In 2009, Congress authorized a national ground water monitoring program. In 2010, six states tested concepts for the National Ground Water Monitoring Network. An expansion of this effort would provide consistent, comparable nationwide groundwater level and quality data through a Web portal for federal, state, local government, and private-sector users.