DEP Reminds Citizens That Today Is ‘Protect Your Groundwater Day’

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages the public to protect public health and the environment by honoring “Protect Your Groundwater Day” today.

“The quality of groundwater impacts many aspects of our daily lives,” DEP Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo said. “I encourage everyone to consider ways they can protect and improve groundwater for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.”

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. Well owners are encouraged to an annual well test and ensure that the well is topped with a sanitary well cap.

All Pennsylvanians, regardless of whether or not they use a well as their water source, should consider ways they can protect groundwater. Appropriate storage, use and disposal of hazardous household substances, in addition to septic system maintenance, can improve groundwater quality for all.

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 wells—sometimes 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:

• Store cleaning products and other household chemicals properly and in a secure place.

• Use household products according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

• Dispose of household products safely.

• Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets.

• Check for household leaks. A leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.

• Take short showers instead of baths.

• Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads.

Private well owners should take the following steps to prevent contamination and ensure water quality:

• 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.

• Test well water annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern.

• Inspect and clean the septic system regularly.

• Inspect water well systems annually.

• Decommission any abandoned wells properly.

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