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Loving the Groundwater

With joy you will draw water

from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12:3 NIV

From Jesus telling the woman at the well that he can give her living water to the Lord forming streams in the wasteland, water is a prominent metaphor for salvation and abundant life in the Bible. Who hasn’t experienced the feeling of being rescued by a tall, cool cup of water, the satisfying ribbon of a water fountain, or the refreshing slurp out of a garden hose? 

Water is an apt metaphor for salvation because it is essential for our survival. 

When people aren’t following God’s ways of love, abusing people, animals, and the planet—whether knowingly or unknowingly—the people, animals, and planet suffers. Punishment for polluting our streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater is non-potable water and poisoned water, dried up wells, clogged up rivers, and parched land. God promises these consequences over and over again in Scriptures. 

But when people return to the way of God, who commanded us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, love pours out into all areas of our lives. If we love the land, love each other, love plants, and love animals, then we have to love and care for water. When we’re obedient to this call to love, water once again flows.

Taking Care of Our Groundwater

National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 5-11. Water that is stored underneath the Earth’s surface in rock, soil pore spaces, and fractures of rock formations is considered groundwater. About 30% of all freshwater in the world is groundwater, and more than half of Americans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water.

If you have a well in your yard or in your community, your home taps into groundwater.

The earth, soil, and rocks act as incredible water filters to keep our groundwater clean, but even the best manmade and God-made filters can’t handle all of the toxins. Whether you live in an area with wells or in an area with municipal water systems and treatment plants, whatever you pour down your drains will eventually reach groundwater.

Contamination, overuse and depletion, nitrates (fertilizers and pesticides), pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and improperly managed on-site wastewater treatment systems all play a part in threatening the potability and health of groundwater. Here are some things you can do to protect the health of our groundwater:

Fix the Leaks

Small leaks can add up to big losses in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. In fact, ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Check your faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps for slow drips to get to the bottom of wasted water.

Don’t Let It Run

When you don’t need to run the water, turn it off to conserve it. There’s no reason to run the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. You can also reduce the amount of water you use by taking shorter showers and challenging your family members to do the same—aim for a five-minute cleanse and save the 20-minute steamfest as a luxury on a Saturday morning. Another great way to conserve water is to only run full loads in the dishwasher and clothes washer.

If You Own a Well, Schedule a Checkup

Image: Hanna Vedenpää 

While individuals who live in municipalities rely on the local governments to protect public drinking water systems, those who live in rural areas and rely on private wells for their drinking water don’t have the same regulations. It is up to owners of wells to make sure their drinking water is safe.

The EPA recommends testing your well once a year for mechanical issues, total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels, as well as any other contaminants you suspect might be in the water. Testing your water is also a good idea if you’ve heard other people talk about well or water problems in the area, if the land around your well has been disturbed by flooding or other land changes, or if you notice a change in the taste, odor, or color of your water. Routine inspection can help ensure proper operation, prolong its life, and protect your investment and your health.

Reduce or Eliminate Chemical Use

As mentioned above, everything we do can eventually reach our groundwater, including the chemicals we put on our lawns. Reducing or eliminating chemical lawn applications can make a big difference.

If you just can’t imagine a lawn without that shiny green fertilizer sheen this summer, know that you can have a beautiful lawn without damaging your groundwater. Here are five ways you can care for your lawn without using any chemicals at all.

Besides lawn care, we use other chemicals every single day, and these chemicals can be potentially hazardous to the health of our groundwater. Contact your local health department to find out how to dispose of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances safely.

Even our everyday household cleaners can have potent and dangerous chemicals (after all, we don’t guzzle bleach). Natural alternatives like lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar are great household cleaners that are inexpensive and environmentally friendly.

Native Landscaping

Image: Jason Mitrione 

Once you’ve decided to do away with your lawn chemicals, you can also take greater steps to conserve water in your yard with a revised landscaping plan. Choose plants that are native to your area. Native plants have spent thousands of years adapting to the natural environment where you live and won’t require as much, or any, additional water and fertilizer to thrive.

Some families have chosen to go completely lawn-free, reducing their reliance on fossil fuels for lawn mowing, water for irrigation, and all of that time laboring over the perfect carpet of green. They’ve replaced their lawns with a variety of local ecosystem-friendly lawn alternatives, from ornamental grasses to natural meadows to moss to low-growing mats of groundcover. Here are ten of the more popular options for taking your lawn in a different direction.

May all of our work together collectively make water spring forth in desert places!

Source: NGWA, The Groundwater Association, 2023.

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