From brownfield cleanups and aquifer storage to geothermal heat pumps and drinking water systems, federal investment in ground water-related infrastructure could provide a substantial boost to the public and the economy, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) says.

In a position paper developed by the association, NGWA notes that the ground water industry is “poised to help move the nation forward” in ensuring its long-term water and energy needs are met.

“Focused, informed federal government policies and funding that support 21st century infrastructure can assist in achieving a secure water and energy future while providing jobs for groundwater professionals,” NGWA says.

The ground water industry employs more than 200,000 people. They are involved in water well and pump installation and service, environmental consulting, remediation, education, and the manufacturing and distribution of products.

More specifically, NGWA recommends:
  • Federal support for water infrastructure that includes managed aquifer recharge products. Managed aquifer recharge provides a method to replenish ground water supplies by capturing available water (during wet periods, during periods of low demand, or water that would be lost otherwise).
  • Support of brownfield projects through grants for assessment, revolving loan funds and cleanup. An estimated 450,000 brownfield sites pockmark the nation’s landscape. These sites formerly hosted facilities that produced the nation’s goods, services and jobs. Currently, however, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of that land is hampered by the potential for contamination presence, including the ground water.
  • Government support for alternative energy development including geothermal energy utilized through geothermal heat pump systems. Schools and defense facilities around the country that have installed geothermal heat pump systems are reaping the benefits through reduced energy use and costs. Dollar savings can be turned to improving educational outcomes and targeting defense dollars to security measures.
  • Refurbishing and upgrading drinking water systems and infrastructure using skilled and knowledgeable ground water professionals. Ground water professionals determine water supply availability; engineer and install water wells, and pumping and treatment systems; and service these systems.
“There is nothing more important to human life and economic development than the availability of a dependable supply of water and energy,” says NGWA executive director Kevin McCray, CAE. “NGWA vigorously recommends that our nation strengthen this foundation through meaningful investment in water and energy infrastructure. The benefits of such investments will flow to the public.”