Screening and training protect private wells from contamination

Private water wells in Texas provide water to 2.3 million people. But these wells have a greater risk of exposure to nitrates, E. coli bacteria and other contaminants than public supply water wells, which are monitored according to the Safe Drinking Water Act. To help divert contaminants away from surface waters, prevent contamination of underlying aquifers and safeguard the health of private well owners and their families, the Texas Well Owner Network screens private wells and teaches Texans about water quality and best management practices. These science-based, community-responsive programs have encouraged well owners to act, resulting in safer water. For example, in 2019, the program identified numerous wells near contamination sources. One year later, 96% of participants with wells near contamination sources (such as pet shelters and livestock pens) had moved the sources. In 2019, the Texas Well Owner Network also identified abandoned wells that needed to be capped or plugged. Within a year of the program, 67% of those had been plugged or capped.

The Texas Well Owner Network was created by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and other collaborating agencies and organizations.

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