Extension offers help to private well owners interested in water safety

Published 5:15 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

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Contributed by County Extension Coordinator, Tana Shealey

About 20 % of the residents in Alabama depend upon private water systems, or well water, for drinking water according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Making sure that well water is safe is the responsibility of the private well owner, but scientists and researchers with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are available to help.

Jessica Curl, coordinator of the Alabama Extension water program says her team delivers services to thousands of stakeholders with private wells each year.

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“This program engages with the public through the creation of resources housed on the Alabama Cooperative Extension System webpage, webinars, and in-person workshops,” Curl stated. “In 2022, the available resources were expended upon with the establishment of the Private Well Program Online Course.”

Several topics for course participants introduce users to essential to proper well ownership and safety. Each attendee will learn about private water systems during the online course.

By using a threefold approach—an online course, webinar series and digital print content—there is a Private Well Program resource for everyone. Curl said these resources are essential for Alabamians who are responsible for the maintenance, testing and treatment of well systems.

“Wells can become contaminated through failed maintenance, improper construction or poor stewardship practices around the well,” Curl said. “Access to these resources allows well owners to have a proactive hand in ensuring that their water quality remains safe.”

Topics included in all private well resources pertain to aquifers, well construction standards, water testing basics and interpreting results, water well maintenance and where to get your water tested.

Alabama Extension personnel, researchers, agency partners work together to provide education to well owners. This collaboration sets research priorities while also establishing a well owner network. This trustworthy team delivers unbiased, scientific information to assess needs and identifies issues.

The group crafted its educational topics and curriculum after utilizing a statewide needs assessment for Extension personnel. Survey results determining approximately 36% of respondents contact county offices at least once a month with well water questions. Creators of the Private Well Program listen to communities’ needs and develop needs-based programming. Key components provided by feedback were inserted into program materials.

For any well owner, Alabama Extension’s Private Well Program – Alabama Cooperative Extension System (aces.edu) is a worthwhile resource. To learn more about the program and its resources, visit www.aces.edu or reach out to County Extension Coordinator, Tana Shaeley at 334-548-2315 or 334-419-5681 for help and scheduling private well water classes for your community.