Monday, November 1, 2010

Virginia Master Well Owner

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public water systems, the responsibility for ensuring the safety and consistent supply of water from the estimated more than 1.7 million private wells in Virginia belongs to the well owner. Owners of private wells are responsible for all aspects of water system management. These responsibilities include knowing the well’s history, testing the water quality annually (or more often as needed), and having the well system and its components inspected regularly by a well driller licensed or certified by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, DPOR, and ensuring the maintenance and repair of the system.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension obtained a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Research Education and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES) to restart the Virginia Household Water Quality Program (VAHWQP) originally launched in 1989. The program centers around household drinking water clinics, which include confidential water sample analysis followed by a meeting where citizens learn how to interpret their sample analysis report and how to care for their water system and address any potential problems. The water clinics were restarted and the Virginia Master Well Owner Network (VAMWON) was established, patterned after very successful master well owner volunteer network established in Pennsylvania.

I spend this past Saturday at all day training in Charlottesville, Virginia to become a Virginia Master Well Owner volunteer. The Virginia Master Well Owner Network, VAMWON, consists of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) agents and qualified volunteers trained in the proper design, management, and maintenance of private water supply systems (springs, wells, and cisterns). The day included training on a variety of topics pertinent to developing a unified understanding of private water systems, including groundwater hydrology in Virginia, water testing, routine system maintenance, and dealing with water problems.

Like many of others, my professional experience gave me insight into understanding the private water supplies, and the resource materials from the program (all available on-line) which I studied in advance well prepared me for the training. The opportunity to ask questions of experts and listen to other’s questions, see equipment and demonstrations was a great way to reinforce everything I learned. The best place for all homeowners with private drinking wells to start is to review the brochure “Ten Tips for Managing Your Private Well Water Supply.”

As a VAMWON trained volunteer I am expected to reach out to private water system owners in a variety of ways, ranging from speaking to local community groups and HOAs to informal discussions with friends and neighbors. We can provide information and guidance of where to seek the appropriate help and services to address a water/well problem. We are here to help you can find a VAMWON trained volunteer or extension agent on-line or through you local extension office.

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