If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is often worth tens of thousands.
That’s especially true of a map that tells the story of a natural resource that is out of sight and often overlooked: groundwater. Building on over five years of work, FLOW has recently updated and improved our groundwater story map. Now we want to make it readily accessible to educators and students.
Michigan’s groundwater is a critical part of the water cycle and fuels our Great Lakes. This “invisible” resource is in danger of contamination and depletion everywhere, and other regions in the U.S. are currently dealing with the fallout of its degradation. Michigan needs healthy and plentiful groundwater to support its freshwater industries and tourism, environmental biodiversity and ecosystems, and the health of almost 4.5 million Michigan residents (44% of the population) who use groundwater in their homes.
FLOW created this groundwater story map to help the public access and understand current and accurate information about this increasingly threatened resource. It is a comprehensive educational tool designed for everyone, from the experienced advocate to the merely curious, to help explain the wonders and threats to groundwater. It covers topics like groundwater basics, unique ecosystems, groundwater use, extraction and industry, and groundwater protection.
The story map uses the most recent available data for groundwater wells, extractions, contamination sites, and more to create interactive mapping applications – all streamlined for faster loading. There are new maps showing industrial and irrigation wells, Michigan’s aquifers, and how various sectors utilized groundwater in 2021. There are also new interactive graphics describing Michigan’s groundwater usage.
The story map is bursting with information about the environmental significance of groundwater. It takes you on a visual journey from the groundwater basics to unique ecosystems, threats, and protection.