The Leading Movie On Groundwater

Month: August 2021

Groundwater Documentary A Guide To Solving Today’s Water Challenges

By Warren Tenney

The desert cities in Central Arizona have withstood 22 years of ongoing drought without imposing emergency conservation measures, such as those California ordered in 2015. Much of the credit goes to a groundbreaking piece of legislation called the Arizona Groundwater Management Act. The 37-year-old law is responsible for Arizona’s reputation as a leader in water management. The true story of how this law was negotiated, written and passed is the subject of a 2015 documentary called Groundwater: To enact a law for the common good. Unlike many documentaries about water, this one is often humorous as former power brokers explain the rancor and slippery tactics that lead to the story’s happy ending.

A Little Background: Groundwater is found in aquifers beneath our feet, where it has accumulated over millions of years.  Very little groundwater is naturally replenished in Arizona and the southwest, and as groundwater is depleted, wells must be drilled deeper and deeper to reach water. Ultimately, the aquifer will go dry. Before 1980, Arizona’s growing cities and expanding agricultural and mining industries were pumping groundwater at an alarming rate, and it became obvious that the state could not build an economy on the unregulated use of a finite water supply.

The 1980 Groundwater Management Act addressed this problem in central Arizona by prohibiting the expansion of farmland, requiring an assured 100-year water supply for new residential development, limiting the drilling of new wells, and imposing mandatory conservation requirements. With these measures in place, groundwater depletion in central Arizona has been slowed dramatically.

Political Showmanship: The Groundwater Management Act was the culmination of nearly three years of negotiations that required the political and economic giants of the time – mining, agriculture and growing municipalities – to agree to a plan that regulated their water use. The idea of these special interests reaching an agreement then was about as likely as it would be today. Defying the odds, they found a way. The proposed agreement went to the Legislature with another gamble: pass it as written without amendments or don’t pass it at all. The Act passed.

Groundwater: To enact a law for the common good tracks this political drama and has become a cult classic in the water world since its October 2015 premiere at the Phoenix Art Museum. Arizona PBS aired the 30-minute documentary in 2016 and it just became available on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play.

Making the Movie: The film was produced by a partnership of knowledge and art. Attorney and former AMWUA Executive Director Kathleen Ferris contributed her expertise earned through decades of shaping Arizona water law, including her 1977 appointment as Executive Director of the Groundwater Management Study Commission. Writer and director Michael Schiffer supplied talents honed by decades of film writing, including ColorsLean on Me, and Crimson Tide and the video game, Call of Duty. Together they raised the documentary from oral history to a story of how political intrigue and leadership saved the state’s groundwater.

The idea for the film came from the late Jack DeBolske, who served 40 years as the executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and, simultaneously, created and led the Maricopa Association of Governments. He was at the table throughout the groundwater negotiations and a few years ago called Kathleen to ask about making a record of the event. He knew it was Arizona history worth saving.

Kathleen struggled with just how to record this history until Michael pushed her into co-producing a documentary, a process she knew nothing about. It was May 2015 when Kathleen began tracking down and interviewing her old friends and colleagues, including former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and former Arizona Governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.  At that point, Michael took over the storytelling and directing to turn 20 hours of interviews and exhaustive searches of Arizona’s archives into an entertaining 30-minute story.

Kathleen’s only regret is that she didn’t make the film sooner. Several key players in the negotiations were already gone, but Kathleen interviewed Jack DeBolske for the film and he saw the final product before passing away in July 2017.

Living Another Critical Moment: While the protagonists of Groundwater: To enact a law for the common good were successful, the mission they began isn’t over. As the film points out, Arizona is once again at a point where compromise and leadership are needed to assure the state will continue to have reliable water supplies. Once again, during one of the driest winters in the Southwest’s recent history, the state’s biggest political players are around the table negotiating how best to protect water supplies for the common good. Once again, a positive outcome seems difficult to imagine, which is why recording our history is so important. Groundwater: To enact a law for the common good acts as a warning, a guide and a testament that sometimes the impossible is possible.

Photo: Kathleen Ferris with the late Jack DeBoske  (left) and the late Bill Stephens 

For 49 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit

Groundwater Awareness Week

Much of the water we use comes from the ground. Learn more about the importance of groundwater, the threats to its safety, and how to protect its sources during Groundwater Awareness Week. collage of a faucet, shower, and irrigation water we use comes from the ground

Water is one of the world’s most precious resources. People use water every day for many activities, such as drinking, bathing, recreation, agriculture, cooling, manufacturing, and medical uses. Although water plays an essential role in everyday life, many people don’t realize that much of their water comes from the ground.

Groundwater is water found below the earth’s surface in spaces between rock and soil. Surface water is water that collects above the earth’s surface, such as streams, rivers, lakes, or oceans. Thirty percent of all the fresh water on Earth is groundwater, while the other 70% is surface water. Groundwater supplies water to wells and springs and is an important source of water for public water systems and private wells in the United States.

An estimated 145 million Americans get their tap water from a groundwater source.

National Groundwater Awareness Weekexternal icon, an annual observance sponsored by the National Groundwater Association (NGWA)external icon, is March 7–13, 2021. This observance highlights how important groundwater is to people’s health and the environment.

Groundwater Contamination

All groundwater sources should be protected from contamination (germs and harmful chemicals).

Protecting the safety of groundwater is an important priority for countries throughout the world, including the United States. Most of the time, U.S. groundwater is safe to use. However, groundwater sources can become contaminated with germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and chemicals, such as those used in fertilizers and pesticides. Contaminated groundwater can make people sick.

Drinking water fountain and hands working on water pipe

Water infrastructure requires regular maintenance.

Groundwater sometimes contains naturally present germs and harmful chemicals from the environment, such as arsenic and radon. More often, however, human activities contaminate ground water. These human causes can include incorrect use of fertilizers and pesticides; poorly situated, constructed, or maintained septic systems; improper removal or storage of wastes; mining and construction; and chemical spills at work sites.

Contamination of groundwater systems can lead to outbreaks of disease. Previous outbreaks have occurred either because the groundwater was untreated or because of problems with water treatment. The most common germs identified in groundwater outbreaks include:

Other germs that cause outbreaks from groundwater include Cryptosporidium (a parasite), E. coli (a bacterium), and assorted viruses. From 2009 to 2017, 96 outbreaks linked to groundwater systems were reported to CDC.

You can learn more about some of the most common environmental chemicals that may be found in community water supplies by visiting CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

The presence of germs and harmful chemicals in our groundwater can lead to health problems, including diarrhea, reproductive problems, and nervous system disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are weakened because of HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, or transplant medicines may be more likely to get sick from certain germs and chemicals.

Concerns for groundwater contaminants led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and individual states to develop regulations to protect public water systems, such as the 2006 Ground Water Ruleexternal icon.

Is Your Water From a Groundwater Source?

Public Water Systems

water well

Private well owners should have their water tested annually.

One-third of Americans — more than 102 million people — get their drinking water from public water systems that use groundwater. The EPA regulates drinking water quality in public water systems. You can find out more about your local drinking water quality and possible contaminants by viewing your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which most utility companies are required to provide to customers.

Private Wells

An estimated 43 million Americans get their water from private groundwater wells, which are not subject to EPA regulations. Private groundwater wells can provide safe, clean water. However, contamination that can cause sickness also can occur in well water. If you have a well, you should take steps to protect it and have the water tested annually to make sure your water is safe from harmful germs and chemicals. State and local health departments provide information to help well users protect their drinking water.

5 Little Known Health Benefits Of Drinking Well Water

As homeowners look for alternatives to city water, private wells are becoming a popular option. Well water is a topic of discussion that has been recurring in recent years and it has become the hot subject of different studies to determine its benefits. Well water may vary in quality and water volume but unlike local water systems, it is direct ground water, which does not go through chemical filtering before consumption. The natural state of the well water, great taste, environmental friendliness, and purity are benefits of well water. Following are some secret health benefits that you get from drinking well water.

1. Helps in weight loss


Drinking water is a great way to lose weight. When you drink enough water each day, it can help you to shed pounds or to maintain your weight. When you drink well water, you avoid the harmful chemicals present in regular water and the fact that the water tastes great means that you can drink plenty of it. Drinking water helps you to feel full, preventing you from overeating. In many cases, the body interprets the feeling of dehydration as hunger and drinking water can be the solution you need.

2. Aids in maintaining a healthy heart

You can reduce your risk of having a heart attack by drinking water. According to research, people who drink adequate amounts of water each day are less likely to suffer from heart attacks. Apart from helping with metabolism, hydration and other factors, it helps to flush out toxins, which cause illness from the body. Drinking water is definitely worth it when it comes to protecting your heart. Well water has a cleaner taste making it more drinkable and you will not find it difficult to stay hydrated.

3. Enhances brain function

Drinking water affects the brain and it can help you to think clearly. Research has shown that this zero-calorie essential drink can actually help to make you smarter. The body is made up of 70 percent water, it needs water in order to function at optimum level, and this includes the brain. When you are properly hydrated, you are more focused. Most people will find that the moment they start to feel dehydrated their short-term memory is affected.

4. Promotes healthy looking skin

If you want your skin to look great, drink plenty of water. Water helps to hydrate the skin giving it the beautiful and youthful glow. The water also helps to get rid of toxins that affect the skin texture and you will not have to deal with different skin conditions.

5. Reduces muscle and joint inflammation

If you suffer from joint and muscle inflammation, drinking water can help you to find relief. The water helps to reduce pain by producing much needed lubrication. It also helps to ensure that your body absorbs essential nutrients from the food that you consume.

Many homes across the country have water wells and they enjoy the ground water that is not subject to the chlorination process. Using well water also has financial benefits and getting the system up and running is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Well testing is important to ensure that your water is safe and free from contamination.

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