Thursday, October 18, 2018

Penn State Master Well Owner Network Trained 780 Volunteers, Reached Over 52,500 Well Owners

Nearly three million rural Pennsylvania residents rely on a private well, spring or cistern for their drinking water.
Penn State surveys have shown that approximately 40 percent of these water supplies fail at least one health-based drinking water standard and most homeowners are unaware of best management practices to improve their drinking water.
In 2004, Penn State Extension created the Master Well Owner Network (MWON). This volunteer network is dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based education for private water supply owners in Pennsylvania.
Funding for the Penn State MWON program is provided annually by the Department of Environmental Protection and PA Ground Water Association.
In the past year, the MWON program trained 20 new volunteers joining a network of nearly 200 active volunteers in 53 counties.
These volunteers dedicated over 2,000 hours of their time to educate 4,467 private water supply owners through conversations, presentations, and displays at events.
Follow-up surveys have found that about 75 percent of homeowners who receive education from a MWON volunteer take some action to improve their drinking water supply.
MWON volunteers and Extension coordinators also provided 24 Safe Drinking Water Clinics in 17 counties for 736 private water supply owners. These two-hour programs provided free, onsite water testing for 532 households.
An additional 888 participants viewed one of the recorded webinars on the MWON or Extension websites related to private water system management.
In May 2018 MWON also partnered with numerous agencies to present the 2018 PA Groundwater Symposium which provided professional development for over 250 groundwater professionals from across the state.
Since the inception of MWON in 2004, 779 MWON volunteers have dedicated 16,813 hours of their time to directly educate 52,585 private water supply owners.
Additional indirect education through newsletters, newspapers and publications has been provided to over 100,000 private water supply owners throughout the state.
Mercer County Water Clinic Draws A Crowd
On recent example of the MWON volunteers in action was at a Water Clinic in Mercer County.
Forty-five attendees from Mercer and surrounding counties recently learned about how local land uses can impact their water supply and the importance of installing a sanitary well cap to keep surface water and insects from entering a well.
Common water quality issues and various water treatment options were also discussed at the two-hour long workshop presented by Susan Boser and Bryan Swistock of the Water Resources Extension team.
Participants were able to bring in a water sample from their private well or spring and have it tested at the workshop for educational purposes and to learn more about their water supply.
Tests were performed on site for pH, total dissolved solids and nitrates and samples were incubated overnight for results of total coliform and E. coli bacteria.
At the end of the workshop, 85 percent of participants surveyed indicated that they learned at least some new information and 63 percent planned to take action on their private water supply.
Funding for these water testing workshops is made possible through the statewide Master Well Owner Network Program through an education grant from the Department of Environmental Protection.
For more information on managing private water supplies including articles and videos visit the Penn State Extension Drinking and Residential Water webpage.
To learn more about this program, visit the Penn State Extension Master Well Owner Network webpage.  Click Here to review an online training program for MWON volunteers.
Other Citizen Science Training Opportunities:
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(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletter.)

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