Let’s start with a different question first… where does your tap water come from? (Hint: ‘the tap’ is not the answer we’re looking for.) Seriously though, do you know where your tap water is sourced from? Maybe you live in a city and you know you pay the municipality, but have you ever found out where that water comes from? Is it a lake? Or a river? Maybe you live out in a rural area and know darn well that you have a well on the property. It’s an interesting question to ponder, and when you consider that water is necessary to sustain life, it might be worth knowing where your water is coming from, how sustainable that supply is, and perhaps what’s going into it and how it’s being made safe to drink and bathe in. But that’s a whole other topic for discussion.
We were originally asking ‘why monitor your groundwater’ and that question applies to well owners or any organization/municipality that sources their water from a well. Knowing a little about your well and the water that’s in it can range from interesting factoids to critical data. Water levels below ground can vary just like they do above ground, so much like keeping track of lake levels in summer, keeping track of your well levels seasonally can help you establish seasonal trends, know when you’ve got plenty, or when you’re getting lean, and a good data trail can help if something changes and your well suddenly dries up. The latter can be the result of things you can’t control, like an earthquake… but it can also result from other things you can’t control like a development boom in your neighborhood with a whole lot of new houses consuming a whole lot of water! So keeping a monthly log of the water level in your well can be a good idea.
As with any data collection, try to keep the variables the same each time you run a test – same time of day (for example, before the entire family take their daily showers and all the water-using machines in the house run), same day of the month (for example, set up a reminder on your phone to do your monthly well test on the 15th)… you get the picture. Try to keep the test conditions the same every time. Maybe for fun sometime, you and the kids could run an experiment – measure the well first thing in the morning, then take showers, run dish and clothes washers all in rapid succession (lots of water being used) then run out and test the water level again. Is there a difference? Does your system have a big storage tank that the house pulls from that gets filled by the well? These are interesting ways you can learn more about your system and be more aware of the resource that you rely on daily!
To learn more, check out these handy resources:
- American Ground Water Trust – https://agwt.org/
- National Ground Water Association – http://www.ngwa.org/
- Groundwater Foundation – What is Groundwater – http://www.groundwater.org/get-informed/basics/groundwater.html
- The USGS Water Science School is an excellent resource as well – https://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthgwwells.html