Established in 1999, National Groundwater Awareness Week provides an opportunity for people to learn about the importance of groundwater, how the resource impacts lives, and how we can protect/conserve it.
Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers. It is the world's most extracted natural resource, and it supports our ecosystems.
Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals get into the groundwater and cause it to become unsafe and unfit for human use.
Materials from the land's surface can move through the soil and end up in the groundwater. For example, pesticides and fertilizers can find their way into groundwater supplies over time. Road salt, toxic substances from mining sites, and used motor oil also may seep into groundwater. In addition, it is possible for untreated waste from septic tanks and toxic chemicals from underground storage tanks and leaky landfills to contaminate groundwater.
Facts about Groundwater
- Only 1% of the water on Earth is useable, 99% of which is groundwater.
- The United States uses 349 billion gallons of freshwater every day.
- Groundwater is 20 to 30 times larger than all U.S. lakes, streams, and rivers combined.
- Groundwater accounts for 33% of all the water used by U.S. municipalities.
- 44% of the U.S. population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply.
- More than 13.2 million households have their own well, representing 34 million people.
- 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used for agricultural irrigation each day.
- The largest U.S. aquifer is the Ogallala, underlying 250,000 square miles stretching from Texas to South Dakota.
- California pumps 10.7 billion gallons of groundwater each day.
- Groundwater is the world’s most extracted raw material with withdrawal rates in the estimated range of 259 trillion gallons per year.
Visit the Groundwater Foundation for more information.