Groundwater is one of the most important natural resource for human life, and National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 8-14, is a good time to learn how to become a good steward of it, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Of all available freshwater in the world, 99 percent is groundwater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That means all the world’s rivers, lakes, and streams make up only 1 percent.

“Life as we know it would quite simply not be possible without groundwater,” says Cliff Treyens, NGWA public awareness director. “It provides drinking water to about 132 million Americans, supplies surface freshwater bodies, waters crops, and supports ecosystems.”

“The same is true throughout the world. That is why it is so important that every person do something to be a good steward of this vital resource — and there are some very practical things every person can do,” Treyens says.

Consider the following:

  • 87 million Americans are on community water systems that use groundwater
  • 44.5 million Americans supply their own water through water wells
  • As much as 90 percent of the rural population would have no reliable water source if it weren’t for private household water wells
  • Irrigation uses an estimated 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater a day — supplying water to some of the most productive agricultural lands in the world
  • Livestock and aquaculture use an additional 3.5 billion gallons of groundwater a day.

NGWA encourages every person to protect and conserve groundwater in the following ways:

  • Dispose of hazardous substances at appropriate disposal facilities
  • Don’t pour hazardous substances down the drain or toilet, or on the ground
  • Properly store hazardous substances in secure containers
  • Don’t pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it
  • Repair dripping faucets and toilets; one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons or 10,221 liters per year
  • Use water-efficient appliances
  • Use native or drought-resistant plants outdoors.

NGWA is a nonprofit that supports responsible development, management and use of water resources. It’s comprised of groundwater professionals ranging from contractors to equipment manufacturers to scientists and engineers. For more information on National Groundwater Awareness Week, visit