Project Description Narrative:
More than 33% of Wisconsin residents rely on private wells as the source of their drinking water. While federal and state regulations mandate the safety and quality of public water supplies, private well water is not regulated other than to mandate bacteriologically safe water for newly constructed or reconstructed wells. Half of all waterborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. are related to contaminated groundwater. For Wisconsin private well users, nitrate, pesticides, lead, arsenic, radium, and copper are common concerns, and are associated with a variety of adverse acute and chronic health effects ranging from neurological and developmental deficits, various cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and gastrointestinal illness.
A study of social indicators of well water testing in several Wisconsin communities identified that a primary barrier to testing of well water and appropriate actions is a lack of easy-to-access, user-friendly information regarding testing, groundwater quality, and interpretive information provided with test results. Therefore, residents need access to information to help them manage the safety and waulity of their well water and protect local groundwater sources.
Through this award, project partners will develop user-centered, web-based resources for private well owners that will improve the flow of information to Wisconsin residents.
Additional community partners: University of Wisconsin/Madison, Department of Life Sciences Communication; University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point; University of Wisconsin/Extension, Center for Watershed Science and Education; University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Nursing; Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene; Public Health Madison and Dane County; Winnebago County Health Department
Additional MCW academic partner: Melissa DeNomie, MS, Family and Community Medicine