09/13/12 Protecting Indiana’s groundwater isn’t just the responsibility of private well owners; many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater. The Indiana State Department of Health encourages Hoosiers to take steps to protect the state’s groundwater today, National Protect Your Groundwater Day.

In the United States, 88 million Americans rely on groundwater-supplied community water systems while another 42 million rely on individual household water wells.  In Indiana, approximately 25 percent of the population use private water wells.  For household water well owners, how they manage their well systems and property can make a difference in their water quality. People who do not use household wells also can make a difference in groundwater quality, for instance, by how they store, use and dispose of hazardous household substances, or how well they maintain their septic systems.

“As the state has gone through a drought, protecting groundwater through conservation is more important than ever,” said Mike Mettler, Director of the Environmental Public Health Division at the Indiana State Department of Health. “All over Indiana and the nation, the drought has put a strain on many household water wells—sometimes resulting in a reduction or loss of water flow as the water table drops.”

National Protect Your Groundwater Day is an occasion for every citizen to ACT: Acknowledge the issue, Consider how it applies to you, then Take action. Below are some action steps individuals can take courtesy of the Indiana State Department of Health and the National Ground Water Association.

  1. Acknowledge the causes of preventable groundwater contamination:
  • There are hazardous substances common to households.
  • Most household water use occurs in a few areas around the home.
  1. If you own a water well:
  • Wellheads should be a safe distance from potential contamination.
  • Septic system malfunctions can pollute groundwater.
  • Poorly constructed or maintained wells can facilitate contamination.
  • Improperly abandoned wells can lead to groundwater contamination.
  • Is your wellhead a safe distance from possible contamination?
  • Is your well/septic system due for an inspection?
  • Are there any abandoned wells on your property?
  • What specific hazardous substances are in and around your home?
  • Where do you and your family use the most water?
  • Move possible contamination sources a safe distance from the wellhead.
  • Get current on your septic system inspection and cleaning.
  • Get an annual water well system inspection.
  • Properly decommission any abandoned wells using a professional.
  1. Take action to prevent groundwater contamination:
  • Modify your water use
  • Install a water-saving device.
  • When it comes to hazardous household substances:
  • Store them properly in a secure place
  • Use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Dispose of them safely.

For more information about Protect Your Groundwater Day, visit http://www.ngwa.org/Events-Education/groundwater-day/Pages/default.aspx.

To learn more about groundwater protection in Indiana, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/20408.htm.