March 11-17, 2018 is National Groundwater Awareness Week.

What’s groundwater?

All of our water comes from two channels:

  • Surface water, fresh water sources on the surface of earth, such as rivers, streams, and reservoirs.
  • Groundwater, which is contained in underground aquifers and underground lakes. Groundwater is replenished from precipitation, streams and rivers that seep into the aquifer.
    Ninety-nine percent of all available freshwater in the world is groundwater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That means all the world’s rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs make up only one percent.

    We couldn’t exist without groundwater. Along with oxygen, it is arguably the most important natural resource for human life, according to the National Groundwater Awareness Association (NGWA).

    “Life as we know it would quite simply not be possible without groundwater. It provides drinking water to about 132 million Americans (44.5 million through water wells), supplies surface freshwater bodies, waters crops, and supports ecosystems,” said NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens.

  • It’s the world’s most extracted natural resource.
  • It’s estimated that the volume of groundwater is 50 times that of surface freshwater. The only larger reservoir of fresh water on earth comes from glaciers and icecaps.
  • Groundwater supplies drinking water for 51% of the total U.S. population and 99% of the rural population.
  • Groundwater helps grow our food: 64% of groundwater is used for irrigation to grow crops.
    Irrigation uses an estimated 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater a day, supplying water to some of the most productive agricultural lands in the world.

    Livestock and aquaculture use an additional 3.5 billion gallons of groundwater a day.
    If you see any abuse of groundwater—uncapped wells, pollution seeping into the ground—report it to your local authorities.


    [1] An underground lake (image courtesy iStock).

    [2] An illustration of an underground aquifer feeding an above-ground stream (image courtesy Groundwater Directory | New Zealand).

    [3] This image shows an above-ground well tapping into the layer of groundwater beneath the surface (image courtesy SCM Waterproof Porous | Blogspot).


    For more about groundwater, visit the National Groundwater Association. Their goal is to protect the quality of groundwater via responsible development, management and use of water.

    Check out the different types of water in our Water Glossary.


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