NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is joining the Tennessee Department of Health to encourage Tennesseans and private water well owners in the state to observe Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 11.
Sponsored by the National Ground Water Association, in partnership with a variety of federal, state and local partners, Protect Your Groundwater Day highlights the importance of the state’s underground water resources. It also is designed to raise awareness among private water well owners on the importance of yearly testing and proper well maintenance to prevent illness.
“Protect Your Groundwater Day is a great time to reinforce the importance of good ground water quality,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “In addition to private water wells, a large percentage of public systems in the state rely on ground water for its drinking water supply. There are a number of steps Tennesseans can take to preserve and protect ground water for human and environmental needs.”
Tennessee contains beautiful streams, rivers and lakes, and protecting the state’s unseen groundwater system also is important. Regional aquifers are large bodies of hidden underground water and supply a substantial amount of the state’s public and private drinking water.
Tennesseans can do their part in promoting good stewardship of the state’s ground water by properly maintaining their home septic systems and any abandoned wells they own and through proper storage and the appropriate disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products or hazardous household waste, including common products such as gasoline, oil, paints, fertilizers, pesticides and cleaning products. For a schedule of TDEC’s upcoming Household Hazardous Waste Collection events slated for this fall, please visit www.tn.gov/environment/swm/pdf/hazcoll.pdf.
The safety requirements for public drinking water systems do not apply to private wells, so it is the responsibility of private water well owners to ensure their water is safe from contaminants. For more information on the readily available resources for well owners and drillers, please visit TDEC’s Division of Water Resources at www.tn.gov/environment/dws. The website contains several program links, including the list of Licensed Tennessee Well Drillers and Installers and the Tennessee Healthy Well Manual.
According to the Department of Health, at least three outbreaks of waterborne illness related to the consumption of water from a private well or spring have been investigated in Tennessee since 2007. These outbreaks resulted in 16 persons becoming ill. Recommendations to well owners include testing private water supplies annually for bacteria and chemical contaminants. In some areas where karst or limestone geology predominates, filtration through the earth is not effective; continuous purifying treatment such as home filtration, distillers or chlorinating systems are often necessary for drinking water to be reliably free of contamination.
Information about Protect Your Groundwater Day can be found on the National Ground Water Association’s website at www.ngwa.org.