Penn State Extension Webinar Discusses Pennsylvania Water Wells

Posted: June 12, 2017

On May 31, 2017, the Penn State Water Resources Extension team hosted a webinar on Lessons from Over 30 Years of Water Well Research and Outreach in Pennsylvania. The presenter was Bryan Swistock, a Water Resources Extension Associate with Penn State Extension in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.
Well in Central Pennsylvania. Photo: Bryan Swistock, Penn State University

Well in Central Pennsylvania. Photo: Bryan Swistock, Penn State University

Private water wells and springs are vital to the rural water infrastructure in Pennsylvania providing drinking water to approximately three million rural residents and farms. Penn State Extension first created a research and outreach program for private drinking water supplies in Pennsylvania in 1984. Over the past 33 years, we have learned a great deal about the characteristics and management of these rural drinking water supplies.

The webinar summarized results from many research and outreach projects focusing on private wells, springs and cisterns. Results have shown that private water supply owners are extremely satisfied with the quality and quantity of water from their well or spring but only about half have been properly tested by a state accredited laboratory. Various studies have consistently found that about 40% fail at least one primary drinking water standard. Water supply owners have a high level of awareness of aesthetic water quality problems but a very low awareness of symptomless health-related issues like bacteria and lead. A little over half of private water supplies are treated with water softeners and sediment filters the most common treatment devices. This same study found some evidence of unnecessary water treatment in some homes. The size and rural nature of the private water supply audience has required various innovative outreach programs to reach a significant number with information about proper management to ensure safe drinking water.

To view the entire 45 minute recorded webinar visit the Penn State Extension Water Resources Webinar series at: