HARRISBURG The Department of Environmental Protection encourages the public to protect public health and the environment by taking part in a statewide celebration of "Protect Your Groundwater Day" today.
"Clean water is one of our most precious assets," acting DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. "Every Pennsylvanian can take a few easy steps and play a part in keeping our water clean. Let's not take our resources for granted."
In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.5 million people rely on groundwater-supplied community water systems, while another 2 million residents rely on individual household water wells. Proper management of groundwater and private well systems greatly impacts water quality.
Households that do not rely on a private well can make a difference in groundwater quality, too. Appropriate storage, use and disposal of hazardous household substances, in addition to septic system maintenance, can improve groundwater quality for everyone.
Protecting groundwater through conservation is more important than ever. Drought, while not a significant problem in Pennsylvania at this time, has the potential to put a strain on household water wellssometimes resulting in a reduction or loss of flow as the water table drops.
Surface water is also affected by groundwater because natural discharge is needed to maintain the flow in streams and rivers, especially during periods of little or no precipitation.
Here are some actions that individuals can take to protect and conserve groundwater:
Ÿ Store cleaning products and other household chemicals properly and in a secure place. Ÿ Use household products according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Ÿ Dispose of household products safely. Ÿ Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets. Ÿ Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day. Ÿ Take short showers instead of baths.Ÿ Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads.
Private well owners should take the following steps to prevent contamination and ensure water quality:
Ÿ Move possible contamination sources, such as kennels or livestock operations, waste systems, or chemical storage areas for paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil, a safe distance away from the wellhead. Ÿ Test well water annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Ÿ Inspect and clean the septic system regularly. Ÿ Inspect water well systems annually. Ÿ Decommission any abandoned wells properly.