Earth Day is a Good Day for Water Too

Posted: April 18, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016, will be the 46th year for the annual “Earth Day” event. This event has encouraged individuals and communities to organize illegal dump cleanups, tree planting events, and recycling projects. Cleaning up your environment will beautify the earth, but it also will go a long way to protect important groundwater resources flowing under our feet.
Photo by: John Reed, Port Allegany, PA

Photo by: John Reed, Port Allegany, PA

There are 80 trillion gallons of fresh groundwater in Pennsylvania. That is thirty times more water than the surface water we can readily see in the state. We withdraw about one billion gallons of groundwater each day in PA. Roughly half of Pennsylvania’s population gets their drinking water right from groundwater. We count on the earth or soil to filter the rain water of contaminates as it percolates down through the ground and regenerates the groundwater. What we put on the ground can affect the quality of the groundwater we all share. What I put on the ground may someday end up in my neighbor’s water well downhill from me, and the neighbor above me can affect my well in the same way as groundwater generally flows from uphill to downhill, following the topography of the land.

In the above picture Karen Reed, Port Allegany Borough Secretary in McKean County, picks up tires with her husband that she saw someone dump over the bank in her neighborhood, recently. She contacted, Penn State Extension Water Resources Educator and PA CleanWays of McKean County Secretary, Jim Clark, and they worked out a plan to get the tires to the CleanWays tire recycling project planned for July 23rd, in Smethport, PA. PA CleanWays of McKean is an affiliate of Keep PA Beautiful. Illegal dumping not only makes the landscape unsightly, it can also affect our water resources. Many of the illegal dumps, scattered across Pennsylvania, lay on the banks of important streams and rivers.

Earth Day is a reminder to not litter, to pick up the trash even if you did not put it there, and to help our earth, and in turn, our finite water resources. What are you doing for Earth Day 2016?

James A. Clark
Extension Water Resources Educator
Renewable Natural Resources Extension Team
Penn State Extension
McKean County