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Community Viewpoint: Nonprofit promotes individual well monitoring, safety program

More than 43 million people in the United States rely on private wells as their sole drinking water source.

One out of five wells inspected are found contaminated at concentrations above the safe human health benchmark, according to the national research study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Some common contaminants found in domestic wells, included arsenic, uranium, boron, lithium and radionuclides. Drinking contaminated water can cause deficiency in cognition development in infants and young children leading to life-long learning disabilities and cancer, thyroid problems and other serious health issues.

The quality and safety of private water wells is not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) or any state or county laws. Individual well owners are responsible for the maintenance and monitoring water quality of their private well system. However, many well owners do not know how to properly maintain their well to ensure the safety of their drinking water source.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), a non-profit organization, who provides training, technical and financial resources and advocacy to assist rural communities and provides technical services to promote the public health. RCAC has launched the pilot program, Individual Well Program, in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association, University of Illinois, National Groundwater Association and the Water System Council to provide free well assessments and educational resources for private well owners, not regulated by SDWA.

RCAC geologist staff perform the comprehensive well assessment, including inspecting for potential well vulnerabilities, potential sources of contamination in close proximity to the well, and inspection to make sure the well is constructed properly, according to the state well construction standards. The well assessment provides the well owners with the education and resources to ensure their drinking water is safe and reliable.

After the well inspection, the well owner will receive a completed Well Assessment Report with recommendation of possible repairs and water treatment options.

RCAC will also provide future follow-up technical provider assistance as needed and low-interest household well loans and possible grants for repairs and drilling a new well in face of the drought for eligible well owners. After the well assessment process, well owners are more knowledgeable about how to properly maintain and perform regular water quality monitoring on their private well.

The well owners will receive a copy of all information accessed and gathered during the well assessment so they can better understand their water source and help them ensure that their water is safe. The information will not be shared without the well owner’s permission, other than internally among the RCAC team.

If you interested in more information or to schedule a well assessment, please contact:

Thi Pham, project coordinator for the Rural Community Assistance Corporation’s Individual Well Program. Contact her at (916) 447–2854 ext. 1038. For more information about RCAC, please visit rcac.org.

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