Extension looking to expand statewide education for private water supply users

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Extension is looking for volunteers to take part in a program that provides education to owners and users of private water supplies in Pennsylvania.

Although more than than 3 million rural homeowners and farmers in the state use private water supplies, such as wells and springs, the commonwealth lacks statewide regulations to ensure the safety of these supplies. As a result, Penn State Extension since 2004 has educated the owners of private water supplies through its Master Well Owner Network.

"With such a huge population of private water supply owners, we need a large number of trained volunteers who are willing to provide basic education about the proper construction, testing and maintenance of private drinking-water supplies," said Bryan Swistock, extension water resources specialist in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Swistock pointed out that since the inception of the program, more than 600 volunteers have attended Saturday training workshops to be certified as Penn State Master Well Owners.

The next training course will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Neshaminy Manor Center, 1282 Almshouse Road, Doylestown.

Swistock noted that the Master Well Owner volunteer program requires interested participants to complete an application to determine their eligibility.

"Volunteers must not have any financial stake in private water supplies, such as working for a water-well driller, water-testing lab or water-treatment vendor," he said. "They also must be willing to educate others about what they learn."

Those who successfully complete the training course and pass a short exam will receive a free copy of the 80-page publication, "A Guide to Private Water Systems in Pennsylvania," a coupon good for a 10 percent discount on water testing through the Penn State water-testing lab and access to various Master Well Owner Network educational materials.

"Our goal is to train enthusiastic volunteers who will provide basic education to private water supply owners throughout the state about the proper management of these important drinking-water supplies," Swistock said.

In addition to the Dec. 14 training, the Master Well Owner program provides other online and Saturday training workshop for new volunteers. To learn more about these programs and to complete an application, visit the program website or contact Bryan Swistock at 814-863-0194 or by email at brs@psu.edu.

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Last Updated November 08, 2013