TEMPLE—Over 1,000,000 private water wells in Texas provide water to citizens in rural areas and increasingly, to those living on small acreages at the rural-urban interface. Public drinking water supplies are generally of good quality and are monitored through requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act; however, private well owners are independently responsible for monitoring the quality of their wells and frequently at greater risk for exposure to compromised water quality.
The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Texas Water Resources Institute to develop and deliver a science-based, community-responsive education curriculum for well owners. The Texas Well Owner Network (TWON) program helps private well owners learn about managing their wells and protecting water quality through training workshops and well screenings across the state of Texas. The program curriculum focuses on water well maintenance, well construction, septic system maintenance; improving and protecting water resources, water quality and water treatment as well as well head protection.
Well owners have the option to bring their water samples to the training to be screened for nitrate-nitrogen, total dissolved solids (TDS) and E.coli bacteria for a reduced price. Since the beginning of the program in 2010, there have been over 8,100 private well owners educated through this program. The importance of educating private well owners is so they gain a better understanding of best management practices (BMPs) they can use to better protect their well from contamination.
Through collaborations with Virginia Tech and Louisiana State Universities, and with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, TWON was able to help coordinate and conduct over 60 events providing free well screenings to more than 1,500 private well owners who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas Well Owner Program was recently recognized for their tremendous efforts by being an award recipient of the 2018 Texas Environmental Excellence Award in the Education category.
For more information on the TWON program, go to http://twon.tamu.edu/.
Funding for the development and implementation of the Texas Well Owner Network Program is provided through a Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source grant provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.