National Scientific Community Learns About Well Owner, Health Issues

The integration between domestic well ownership and personal health was spotlighted in January to a national scientific audience interested in the environment and policy via a presentation by the National Ground Water Association.

The venue was the 17th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Integrating Environment and Health, organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment.

“This was a golden opportunity to get the subject of how environmental threats to groundwater can endanger the health of private well owners before a very high caliber audience,” said NGWA Director of General Public Outreach Cliff Treyens who presented a poster at the conference. “Ours was the only presentation to focus on the integration of the environment and health as it pertains to the private well owner.”

The conference examined more than 20 topics where environmental and health interface—environmental and social justice, water quality and quantity, reducing impacts of toxic chemicals, extreme weather and resilience, ecosystem impacts, the food-energy-water nexus, public education, risk assessment, and more.

A poster summarizing NGWA-led research for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was titled “A Study of Private Well Owner Outreach Programs: Discovering Factors Critical to Effectively Motivating Well Owners.”

Data for the research was gathered in 2015 via NGWA interviews with well owner outreach program managers, Water Quality Association interviews with water treatment service providers and state/local regulators, and a literature search and analysis by The Ohio State University College of Public Health.

“Interestingly, a number of other presentations, like NGWA’s, found that often positive public health results are stymied by an inability to persuade consumers to take certain actions,” Treyens said.

Accordingly, the next phase of NGWA’s CDC project is to develop a toolkit to help state and local outreach programs improve their effectiveness in motivating well owners to act to protect their water quality.

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