Groundwater Awareness Week: March 10-16, 2024

Here’s a riddle: what resource is critical to our public health, environment and economy and invisible to the naked eye? That should be easy. The answer is groundwater.

By its nature out of sight, and therefore out of mind, groundwater is an indispensable resource in Michigan and around the world, but frequently wasted and polluted because the effects of these actions take years to manifest themselves.

Since 2018, FLOW has made groundwater protection a top priority. This week’s Groundwater Awareness Week gives us another chance to make the case that we need to take care of groundwater if we are to take care of ourselves.

Sponsored by the National Ground Water Association, which calls for attention to “the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater,” the week should focus on the need to strengthen groundwater protection.

Key Facts About Michigan Groundwater

  • Groundwater supplies 45 percent of Michigan’s population with drinking water.
  • About 20-40% of the water in the Great Lakes originates from groundwater.
  • There are an estimated 26,000 groundwater contamination sites that need state funding for cleanup, and at the current rate of remediation, they won’t all be addressed for decades.
  • Although 1.25 million private water wells supply drinking water to more than two million Michiganders, there is no regular safety testing of that water.
  • High-risk toxic chemicals, including TCE, which has contaminated groundwater in more than 300 known Michigan locations, are still in widespread use.
  • Michigan is the last holdout among the 50 states in protecting groundwater and surface water from failing septic systems through statewide policy. There are an estimated 130,000 failing systems in the state, discharging human waste, household hazardous wastes, pharmaceuticals and other pollutants to groundwater and surface water.

FLOW’s groundwater programming has included three reports, a groundwater story map and two webinars.

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