WQ1403:             Colorado's Private Well Initiative:  Collaboration and Data Use

Speaker:              Hope Dalton, MPA


From conception, project design, results, and lessons learned along the way, hear a case study about collaboration between federal, state and local agencies to obtain and use water quality data related to private wells while marketing the use of the data.  This case study involves multiple agencies sharing data, data display using geographic information systems (GIS), and unanticipated obstacles. We learned the hard way so you don't have to.



The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) obtained a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to identify water quality data for residential wells, the potential health concerns associated with the drinking water from these wells, and to develop and market a tool to use the data. 

CDPHE collaborated with a local health department, Tri-County Health Department (TCHD), to pilot the project prior to a statewide process. TCHD serves three counties in Colorado with approximately 27,000 residential wells.  The pilot process included:  collecting water quality data; development of data-sharing agreements; conversion of paper files to electronic records; piloting a test website and data use: identification of health concerns; prioritizing community information needs, and developing partnerships. 

As the project progressed, CDPHE and TCHD collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to summarize their groundwater-quality data as well as commonly used and available groundwater flow, fate, transport, and geochemical models.  The data was compiled and placed on the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network using GIS technology to combine the water quality data while protecting private information for the identified priority contaminants, specifically, arsenic, nitrate, and bacteria.  Outreach materials were developed including: website information on private wells and the priority contaminants; links to more information; postcard reminders to test well water annually; informational brochures; and graphics for posters and other use.  Lessons learned were primarily related to protection of data, working collaboratively with different levels of government, and efficient use of limited resources.