Rainwater, groundwater, and how bioswales can improve the quality of our most needed resource.
Chances are, you don’t spend a lot of time wondering what happens to rain once it gets to the ground. You also may not realize how much water is hidden under the ground (hint: it’s almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world). Today, March 22, 2022, is World Water Day, and this year is focused on bringing more awareness to groundwater and the systems it impacts.
World Water Day is an annual observance that celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people currently living without access to safe water. A core focus of World Water Day is to inspire action towards Sustainable Goal 6 (SD6): water and sanitation for all by 2030. They chose to focus on rainwater this year because exploring, protecting, and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing global population.
How does rain factor into groundwater? Storm water is one of the main feeders of groundwater, which supports drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry, and ecosystems. Because of the way we develop communities, though, stormwater isn’t retained at the level it could be. Enter the bioswale. Bioswales are storm water runoff conveyance systems that absorb low flows from frequent, small rains - which is the majority of annual precipitation - or carry runoff from heavy rains to storm sewer inlets or directly to surface waters. They improve water quality by infiltrating the first flush of storm water runoff and filtering the large storm flows they convey. Also, they’re way prettier to look at than a sewer.
We may not look at groundwater day-to-day, but we see the impact of it everywhere. It will play a critical role in adapting to climate change, according to the UN World Water Day website, and in the driest parts of the world it is the only water people have. Want to learn more about groundwater? Visit WorldWaterDay.org.