A direct connection between rainfall and groundwater for drinking water exists. No one would dare argue against that and expect to win. Biggest problem, though, is that not too many peaople have studies the NATURE (pun intended) of that relationship — until recently.

Scientists in several states have started monitoring the levels and quality of groundwater deep within the groun in an effort to determine how long it takes water falling from the sky to find its way down through the soil and bedrock and into the aquifers from which many people obtain their drinking water.

KINGSTON, N.H. — About a quarter mile into dense woods, geologists watch as a drilling rig twists a shaft deep into the granite bedrock of southeastern New Hampshire. They are searching for water — not to drink — but to watch.

State and federal agencies have been watching, or monitoring, lakes and rivers for more than a century, but less attention has gone to vast amounts of water in cracks and rock fissures deep underground, leaving a void in understanding a resource growing in importance as demands for water increase and surface water sources are being used to the fullest in many areas.

New Hampshire is drilling a series of wells to monitor groundwater in cracks in granite hundreds of feet below the surface. The goal is to allow scientists to check for contamination; learn about how long it takes for rainfall or melting snow to make its way into the supply; and keep tabs on how climate change, population growth and development affect the water. ( source )

An important aspect of the recent interest in monitoring the quantity and quality of water in underground aquifers deals not just with one state’s interest in its own water sources, but rather in the sharing of data between states.

Due to the complex nature of underground waterways, which for the record do NOT abide by ANY State or Federal boundaries, one state’s rainfall may wind up in another state’s aquifer 100’s or even 1,000’s of miles away depending upon specific geological features AND man made structures such as storrn drains which efficiently whisk newly fallen rainwater away from where a storm cloud deposited it.

By putting each area’s data into a common pool scientists will have a chance to assemble an overall picture of the country’s water and groundwater situation. This nationwide picture will hopefully help them predict water shortages before they happen rather than rather than characterize them after-the-fact.

The goal of forming a network got a boost this year as Congress approved the SECURE Water Act, directing the U.S. Geologic Survey to work with states to develop a national monitoring program for underground water supplies, known as aquifers.

There is no national big picture on groundwater levels or quality because the information exists only “in bits and pieces,” said Christine Reimer of the National Ground Water Association, in Westerville, Ohio.

She emphasized that a national monitoring effort would not put the government in charge of groundwater management, but said information showing trends or changes in groundwater quality or levels could help guide local decisions. ( source )

Some states have not yet undertaken a full-scale groundwater monitoring campaign, but that will most likely change as public interest in groundwater contamination continues to rise.

Contamination is a particular concern around the country, he (New Hampshire State Geologist David Wunsch) said, because homeowners are not required to test their wells. About 20 percent of New Hampshire’s bedrock wells contain arsenic levels above the government standard. Bedrock water also contains uranium and radon, even unsafe levels of fluoride. ( source )

So while the States and the Federal government take action and learn more about groundwater, don’t you think you owe it to yourself to take an interest as well? Most ground water experts would agree that water conditions can change without notice and that routine testing of groundwater makes total sense.

While at-home drinking water test kits don’t have the ability to test for EVERY possible contaminant, some of the more comprehensive well water test kits like the Well Drillers Master Kit or Well Drillers Standard Kit do a pretty good job and work quite well as a supplements to the suggested annual laboratory testing of well water.

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