GWPC Annual Forum Held This Week

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) Annual Forum was held this week with participants from many states, Federal agencies, research institutions, national associations (including ASDWA staff) and industry.  The theme of this year’s Forum was “State Water Sustainability Planning:  The Groundwater Connection,” and featured presentations and discussions on a variety of topics including groundwater quantity and quality, state water planning and alternative water supplies, Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and aquifer exemptions, Underground Injection Control (UIC) programs, and more.  Following are some highlights from the Forum.

  • Speakers during the opening session provided an overview of national perspectives on long-term state water supply planning from Federal agencies (EPA, USDA, and USGS), national associations (National Ground Water Association and American Water Resources Association), industry, and a university. A few key themes included the need to:  balance energy development to minimize groundwater impacts and address induced seismicity; increase efforts to measure, share, and report data; prepare for extreme weather events; expand the use and inclusion of produced water from oil and gas in water supply planning; continue to promote water reuse and recycling efforts; consider impacts from pumping groundwater; and include the whole water cycle in long-term planning and short-term decision-making processes.
  • During the Addressing Groundwater Quality session, speakers shared information about state efforts such as:
    • The University of Arizona conducted a state survey that was funded by the Ground Water Research and Environment Foundation (GWREF). The survey found that most states have some type of laws and regulations that address water quality and quantity. However, the users addressed in the state regulations and each of the state’s governance priorities are highly variable and must also rely on other tools and strategies to manage groundwater use and quantity.
    • The state of Oklahoma is prioritizing efforts and enhancing efficiencies by streamlining their SRF, enforcement, and engineering programs that address groundwater quality and quantity because of state budget cuts.
    • North Carolina has a comprehensive GIS tool that includes groundwater monitoring data collected from counties, private well data, a well finder tool, and source water assessment information.
  • A variety of states including Oklahoma, Idaho, Alaska, Texas, Minnesota, and Massachusetts presented information about their efforts to develop and implement state water plans to ensure the long-term sustainability of water supplies. These plans have some similarities and variation in their accounting for water quantity considerations for future growth and demand, water quality impacts, and climatic factors such as droughts and flooding. The plans address aspects such as data and mapping activities; conservation; water reuse and recycling; and source water protection.  They have also involved an assortment of stakeholder outreach and education efforts, and address water use and demand statewide, as well as at the local and regional levels.
  • The Forum featured several source water protection sessions with presentations about:
    • The National Source Water Collaborative’s new Learning Exchange that is providing resources and conducting webinars on different topics each month through December (see related article).
    • State efforts in Minnesota and Missouri to work with farmers to implement best practices for no-till farming and applying fertilizer, and conservation to protect groundwater wells from nitrate contamination.
    • Nebraska’s efforts to use both Drinking Water SRF and 319 nonpoint source funding to develop alternative watershed basin plans and implement projects to protect groundwater sources of drinking water.

Additional discussions during the Forum highlighted the need for more groundwater quality and quantity sampling data to document the location of drinking water, oil and gas, and UIC wells, as well as understand the hydrogeology of the aquifers to inform decision-making processes and ensure the confinement of hazardous waste and integrity of drinking water aquifers for current and future use.   For more information about the Annual Forum, visit the GWPC website.