From the Harford County Health Department:
Bel Air, MD – March 12, 2015 — On Wednesday, March 11, 2015, Maryland Secretary of the Environment, Benjamin H. Grumbles, visited Harford County. The event was collaboratively planned between the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Harford County Health Department and Harford County Public Schools in observance of National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 8–14, 2015.
Secretary Grumbles met with representatives of each of the partnering agencies before presenting an engaging and informative classroom presentation to a group of fifty Hickory Elementary School fifth grade students. Through interactive dialogue with the children, and supported by an entertaining demonstration, the lesson reached the youth about importance of protecting and preserving groundwater as one of our nation’s most important, valuable and limited natural resources.
Often stopping to ask questions the students were eager to answer, the MDE Secretary challenged them to work with their families to find ways to conserve water use and to avoid contamination of our Maryland watershed. In interviews following his presentation, Mr. Grumbles referred to the students as “Rock Stars,” noting their” enthusiasm and grasp of the basic concepts of environmental stewardship.” About a quarter of all U.S. rainfall becomes groundwater, which provides much of the flow of many streams and lakes into the underground water table. The majority of public water systems in the United States use ground water as their primary source and nearly half of the American population depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply.
The Maryland Department of the Environment and the MD Department of Health & Mental Hygiene in conjunction with its local health jurisdictions, collaborate closely on a variety of important initiatives of mutual interest and importance to both environmental protection and public health. Comments Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly, “All people by their living habits can protect or harm groundwater, our nation and the world’s most abundant freshwater supply. The first step toward protecting groundwater is to become aware of how it can be contaminated. The second step is to do your part to keep from contaminating it.”
Although generally considered safe to use in the United States, groundwater is susceptible to naturally occurring or man-made contamination from pesticides, industrial and agricultural wastes. Failures in treatment of municipal sewage or improper disposal into the environment also can pollute groundwater where human exposure to contaminants at harmful levels can lead to acute and chronic illnesses.
Secretary Grumbles, whose appointment was recently confirmed by the Maryland State Senate on March 6, 2015, has broad experience in energy, climate, air, waste and agricultural policy and regulation. He formerly presided over U.S. Water Alliance, a Washington-based environmental nonprofit organization that educates the public on the value of water and the need for integrated and innovative solutions as well as serving in a number of significant federal and congressional environmental roles. He’s a member of the National Academy of Science’s Water Science and Technology Board and a frequent lecturer and analyst on environmental law and policy who holds a master’s degree in environmental law from George Washington University, a J.D. from Emory University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University. Secretary Grumbles is one of Baltimore’s newest residents but he has lived in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with his wife and children, over the last 30 years.
To learn more about the importance of groundwater, visit The Maryland Department of the Environment website at www.mde.maryland.gov or the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.