What’s in Your Water? Development and Evaluation of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Virginia Master Well Owner Network
Benham, Brian L.
Krometis, Leigh Anne Henry
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Approximately one-fifth of Virginians (about 1.7 million people) rely on private water supplies (e.g., wells, springs, cisterns) for their household water. Unlike public water systems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate private systems. As a result, private water system owners are solely responsible for system maintenance and water quality but are often unaware of common issues and lack access to objective information. We report on the development and evaluation of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program (VAHWQP), an ongoing Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) program that provides affordable water testing and education about private water supply system maintenance and groundwater protection. A companion capacity-building program, the Virginia Master Well Owner Network (VAMWON), provides training to volunteers, agency collaborators, and VCE agents who support the goals and objectives of the VAHWQP by conducting VAHWQP drinking water clinics and other outreach efforts. Program assessment findings indicate that VAHWQP drinking water clinic participants regard this programming favorably and are taking recommended actions. We discuss the program assessment framework and continued efforts to improve these programs to achieve long-term behavioral changes regarding water testing and system maintenance, which will yield safer private water supplies and improved environmental stewardship.
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