Groundwater Guardian Protects a Precious Resource
A little over half of the United State's population (53%) and almost 30% of Mecklenburg County's citizens use groundwater as their primary drinking water source. With so many people depending on groundwater, protection of this vital resource is important here and throughout the country.
The Groundwater Foundation of Nebraska created a national program known as Groundwater Guardian. The purpose of the Groundwater Guardian program is to empower and educate individuals to protect the groundwater resource in their community. Local Groundwater guardian teams are formed to support and encourage the formation and maintenance of citizen lead groundwater programs. Groundwater Guardian teams educate businesses, the public, schoolteachers and students on important environmental issues that affect the quality of groundwater. Educational outreach is crucial to reducing pollution and creating a more environmentally conscious community.
Presently there are three Groundwater Guardian teams in Mecklenburg County;
the Mint Hill,
Lake Norman East and
Steele Creek Groundwater Guardian communities. Any interested individual can form a team as long as there is at least one representative from each of the following sectors: civic group and/or citizen, government, educator, business and/or agriculture. Once the four representatives have been named, the Groundwater Guardian team can plan their goals for the coming year. Learn, plan, act, designate and maintain - these are the five steps for organizing and maintaining a Groundwater Guardian team. With registration and a plan of action, the team is ready to educate and involve their community in groundwater protection. A national conference is held every fall to officially recognize the Groundwater Guardian teams. Each Groundwater Guardian team that has implemented their plan of action is designated a Groundwater Guardian Community for that year. The conference also serves to update members on national programs; networks local community programs and educates members on current topics pertaining to groundwater protection.
Since their formation three years ago, the Mecklenburg County Groundwater Guardian teams have been actively educating their communities. Mint Hill team was recognized nationally as a Groundwater Guardian Community at the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Groundwater Foundation conferences. The other two communities received their national designation at the Foundation's 2000 and 2001 conferences. Mint Hill's activities include a "Water Festival" for students and parents, educational outreach in the Mint Hill schools, and a poster contest. The Lake Norman East team, which encompasses parts of Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties, has set up an educational display in the Statesville Mall and conducted seminars at the local middle schools. In 2002 they had their first Water Festival at Lake Norman Elementary School. The Steele Creek Team sponsored a poster contest for elementary students and set up an educational display at McDowell Park. In 2002 Mint Hill and Steele Creek Groundwater Guardian teams joined together for the Fourth Annual Water Festival. This was the second year that the Water Festival was open to all elementary students in Mecklenburg County.
In addition to the three Groundwater Guardian teams in the county, there are still many other communities within Mecklenburg that would benefit from the Groundwater Guardian program. All it takes are four interested and concerned individuals to form a team. the LUESA Groundwater Program is a Groundwater Guardian Affiliate: a role that promotes the startup of teams in Mecklenburg County.
If you are interested in starting a Groundwater Guardian team in your neighborhood, please contact The Groundwater and Wastewater Program at 704-336-5103.