WQ1404:             An Online Class for Private Well Owners to Protect Public Health

Speaker:              Steven Wilson, MS

 

The Private Well Class is designed to provide homeowners an understanding of the basic science of water wells, well maintenance and groundwater protection. The innovative, ten-lesson class is delivered by email, supplemented by webinars, and is self-directed. This session will cover the success of this program, which has had over 2,700 participants in the first year. Hear how sanitarians are using this class in their work with well owners and how you could utilize this free resource!

 

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Homeowners in small communities and rural areas without a public water supply often lack appropriate understanding of best practices for managing, operating, and protecting their private well. In this new nationwide technical assistance and training initiative, funded by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), through a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency, a step-by-step education framework has been developed to assist well owners and other stakeholders in understanding groundwater hydrology, well fundamentals, well care best practices, and finding assistance locally. It will also help well owners understand how to sample their well, how to interpret sample results, and what they can do to protect their well and source water from contamination. The program leverages web-based content, including video, an email newsletter, and social media marketing to reach and educate homeowners on this important health topic. Outreach to public health officials, well drillers and other stakeholders is a significant component of the project. The material will be freely available on the web and will be highlighted in a repeated series of three live web-based training events that provide well owners the opportunity to ask questions and get practical answers. The Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center, at the University of Illinois, have collaboratively developed the curriculum for this program, under contract with RCAP.

Private well owners face many challenges as the owner/operator of their own water system. They must protect their well and source water from contamination, ensure their well and pump operate effectively, and regularly test their water quality to ensure it is safe for consumption. This presentation will describe an innovative, web-based class for private well owners that will provide them with the information they need to properly maintain and protect their water system.