A precious resource hidden from view.
We see groundwater when it flows from our faucets. Otherwise, it remains invisible to us–sometimes hundreds of feet underground. Yet in the North and South Branch Raritan Watershed, 4 out of 5 residents rely on groundwater from private wells every day and nearly all of the remainder use groundwater from municipal or community wells.
Groundwater is used to irrigate much of the farmland in our watershed. Some of the groundwater remains underground in aquifers for hundreds or thousands of years but much of it is moving as it seeps from the ground into our streams and rivers. These streams that come from the headwaters region eventually flow into the Lower Raritan River that supplies drinking water to 1.5 million people outside our watershed. Finally, it reaches Raritan Bay where it mixes with ocean water to form the lifeblood of the estuaries there. Groundwater matters to our health and the health of our ecosystems in far-reaching ways.
Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater
Use native plants in your landscape. They look great, and don’t need much water or fertilizer. Also choose grass varieties for your lawn that are adapted for your region’s climate, reducing the need for extensive watering or chemical applications.
Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard, and make sure to dispose of them properly – don’t dump them on the ground!
Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites – contact your local health department to find one near you.
Shut off the water when you brush your teeth or shaving, and don’t let it run while waiting for it to get cold. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge instead.
Check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in your home for leaks and fix them right away, or install water conserving models.
Limit yourself to just a five minute shower, and challenge your family members to do the same! Also, make sure to only run full loads in the dish and clothes washer.
Water the lawn and plants during the coolest parts of the day and only when they truly need it. Make sure you, your family, and your neighbors obey any watering restrictions during dry periods.
Reduce the amount of “stuff” you use and reuse what you can. Recycle paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum and other materials.
Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.
Get involved in water education! Learn more about groundwater and share your knowledge with others. Take the River Friendly Resident Survey.
(Source: Groundwater Foundation)