September 6 isn’t just National Coffee Ice Cream Day and #ReadaBook day. It’s also Protect Your Groundwater Day.

protect your GW day 2016

Most people do not realize how critical groundwater actually is. Almost all of the world’s available fresh water—99%—is stored in underground aquifers. In Oregon and Washington, nearly a third of our water supply comes from groundwater, and in California, groundwater accounts for 40 percent of water supply. Some communities depend on it entirely as their sole source of fresh water; others use it as to supplement surface water or as a backup in the summer.

While groundwater is a major source of fresh water, it isn’t immune to the effects of drought and climate change. In some parts of California, groundwater supplies have dried up, leaving some residents without running water for more than a year. And because surface water replenishes underground aquifers, declining river flows affect our groundwater, too.

What You Can Do to Protect Groundwater

The National Ground Water Association has tips and ideas for how everyday citizens can take action to conserve and protect groundwater from contamination. Read more to find out what you can do to protect your groundwater: