Written by The Herald-News
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality joined with the National Ground Water Association to encourage Montanans of all ages to protect their health and the environment by protecting groundwater on "Protect Your Groundwater Day,” which was observed Sept. 10.
Do you know that in Montana, approximately 300,000 residents depend on individual groundwater wells while another 600,000 residents rely on public water supplies that use groundwater?
It's not just individuals that rely on clean groundwater either. In Montana, agricultural irrigation uses about 95 percent of the water supply and only 3 percent is used by households and businesses.
How do you protect groundwater? First, keep it safe from contamination.
For example, how you as a private well owner manage your well system and property can make a big difference in the quality of this life-sustaining resource. Poorly constructed or maintained wells can introduce contaminants into the groundwater. Abandoned or unused wells can also allow contaminants to enter into the groundwater.
Many Montanans who have private individual wells also have an individual on-site septic system on their property. If you're one of these people; the proper inspection, operation and maintenance of your septic system is critical to the health and safety of groundwater and the environment.
Even if you don't use a well you can still make a difference when it comes to protecting groundwater quality and the environment. That's because how you store, use and dispose of hazardous household substances can affect the quality of groundwater. Some common causes of contamination are improper storage of fertilizers and pesticides and chemical spills. Careless disposal of pharmaceuticals and excessive use of personal care products have emerged as fairly recent concerns for their potential harmful effects on groundwater.
The second way you can protect groundwater is to conserve it. With drought being a great concern for much of southwestern Montana and a growing concern for much of the United States, conservation is now more important than ever. It's important to be mindful of your household's water use and to try to minimize waste.
For much more information about how you can protect Montana's valuable groundwater resource, visit the National Groundwater Association website at www.ngwa.org. You'll find tips on preventing contamination and ways you and your family can use water more efficiently.
Remember, Montana's groundwater is your water.