Groundwater Emerges into the Light


Dave Dempsey, Senior Advisor

Design by Ryan Greaves

By Dave Dempsey

Overlooked for many years, groundwater has taken the driver’s seat in 2022, as multiple organizations promote a deeper understanding of the source of drinking water for 145 million Americans and approximately 4.5 million Michiganders.

Promotion this week comes from the Groundwater Foundation and National Ground Water Association as they encourage their constituents and the general public to observe National Groundwater Awareness Week. The two organizations call attention to  “the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater. The event is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance, and the promotion of policies impacting groundwater quality and supply.”

Later this month, it will be FLOW’s turn, as we host a groundwater webinar March 22, which is also World Water Day. Coordinated by the United Nations, this year’s World Water Day theme is “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible.” The FLOW webinar, which runs from 12-1:15 pm Eastern, will feature presentations from Michigan groundwater experts and policymakers. You can register to attend here.

The FLOW webinar, which runs from 12-1:15 pm Eastern, will feature presentations from Michigan groundwater experts and policymakers. You can register to attend here.

Key Facts About Michigan Groundwater

  • Groundwater supplies 45 percent of Michigan’s population with drinking water.
  • As much as 42% 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.

Read More About FLOW’s Groundwater Programming

FLOW’s commitment to educating Michiganders on the importance of protecting groundwater and encouraging them to act reaches back several years. In 2018, we published our first groundwater report, The Sixth Great Lake: the Emergency Threatening Michigan’s Overlooked Groundwater Resource. In 2021, we published a second, Deep Threats to Our Sixth Great Lake: Spotlighting and Solving Michigan’s Groundwater Emergency. We also built a groundwater story map and posted fact sheets about the value of groundwater. And we hosted a groundwater webinar.

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