A new report urges building the National Ground Water Monitoring Network to help ensure America’s critical need for sufficient water supplies. Critical Needs for the Twenty-first Century: The Role of Geosciences recently was released by the American Geosciences Institute. Providing sufficient supplies of water is one of eight critical needs identified in the report.

Within that need, the report specifically recommends, “Monitoring of surface and subsurface water quantity and quality with a focus on enhancing the National Streamflow Information Program and building the National Groundwater [sic] Monitoring Network.”

In the United States, 78 percent of community water systems, nearly all of rural America’s private household water wells and 42 percent of agricultural irrigation water are supplied by ground water. While the nation’s people, food supply, economy and ecosystems depend on ground water, no systematic nationwide monitoring network is in place to measure what is currently available and how ground water levels and quality may be changing over time.

As a long-time advocate of the National Ground Water Monitoring Network, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) applauds the new report.

“As with any valuable natural resource, our ground water reserves must be monitored to assist in planning and minimizing potential impacts from shortages or supply disruptions,” says NGWA government affairs director Christine Reimer. “Just as one cannot effectively oversee the nation’s economy without key data, one cannot adequately address the nation’s food, energy, economic and drinking water security without understanding the extent, availability and sustainability of the critical commodity - ground water.”

Congress has authorized a national ground water monitoring network, and proponents are seeking federal funding to build it.