When rain falls, some of the water ends up in lakes and rivers, some is used by plants, some evaporates back into the atmosphere, and some seeps through the ground into aquifers - large, natural underground water storage areas.
This groundwater provides more than 40 percent of the U.S. population with drinking water. Not only does groundwater quench our thirst, but it is also important in protecting water quality and quantity in surface rivers and streams - during drier times, these waters are derived almost completely from groundwater supplies.
In coastal areas, pumping too much water from aquifers can increase the amount of salt water entering groundwater supplies, sometimes making it undrinkable.
Viewer Tip: March 10-16 is National Groundwater Awareness Week. One of the easiest ways to protect groundwater supplies is to save water at home. Try these simple tips to save 30 gallons in one day:
*Save 5 gallons: Shorten your shower by just two minutes.
*Save 5 gallons: Turn water off between rinsing dishes, rather than running water continuously.
*Save at least 20 gallons: Water your lawn and garden in the early morning or evening hours, when the weather is cooler and water is less likely to evaporate.