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Well owners invited to participate in Penn State statewide study

As part of a study on water quality in private wells across the state, researchers in Penn State\’s College of Agricultural Sciences are inviting well owners to respond to an online survey.
The purpose of the Penn State study, which is a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center, is to determine the characteristics and management of private wells and to gather opinions of homeowners with wells. Results are expected to be released in early 2007.
\”Pennsylvania is home to more than 1 million private water wells, and more than 20,000 new wells are drilled each year,\” said Bryan Swistock, water resources specialist for Penn State Cooperative Extension. \”Pennsylvania is also one of only three states that have no guidelines on the location, construction and maintenance of private wells, so all aspects of private-well management are voluntary and up to the respective well owner.
\”Previous studies have shown that about half of all private wells sampled fail to meet at least one drinking-water standard,\” he said.
\”Especially common problems in wells are bacteria, low pH, lead and iron. As we get more and more wells around the state, the concern is that poorly constructed and managed wells will become a bigger problem.\”
To participate in the survey, private well owners should go to http://water.cas.psu.edu on the Web. There is a short description and link to the survey at the bottom of this Web page. Respondents can follow the instructions from there.
Swistock says he expects to receive about 1,000 responses to the questionnaire. \”We are trying to get as good a representation as we can for the whole state, and we plan to keep the survey period open until at least the end of January.\”
The survey is just part of the research. According to Swistock, investigators also are testing the water quality in 700 wells across the state. The well-testing segment of the study is being funded by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. By comparing survey answers and actual water quality, a clearer picture of drinking-water safety should emerge.
Because all aspects of private well location, construction and management are voluntary, little is known about these water supplies and how they perform for homeowners, Swistock pointed out. \”This makes it difficult to create educational programs to meet the needs of existing and future well owners,\” he said. \”We are trying to get a handle on the quality of Pennsylvania\’s private wells and educate homeowners about the need for proper care.\”