Wisconsin Well Water

Identifying opportunities to support Wisconsin households in managing and maintaining safe drinking water in private wells

Full Project Name:Wisconsin Well Water: Planning web‐based resources to promote safe drinking water for Wisconsin residentsPrimary Community Organization:University of Wisconsin Extension - Central Wisconsin Groundwater CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Syed Ahmed, MD, MPH, DrPH, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$46,501
Award Date
July2008
Project Duration:12 months

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

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Engaged stakeholder gruops, including residents, and IT consultants in strategic planning effort to identify existing and emerging technologies to address priority needs

• Engaged decision-makers from key agencies and stakeholder organizations. identifying consensus priorities for project development and avenues for potential funding to develop web-based tools for well water outreach

• Disseminated findings at various meetings and events, including American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter meetings and the Wisconsin Public Health Association Conference

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