Master Well Owner Volunteers interact with visitors at Ag Progress Days (Photo by Bryan Swistock, Penn State)
The Penn State Master Well Owner Network (MWON) will provide free, online training for the first 30 volunteers who submit an application and meet the following criteria:
- You must not be employed by any company that provides paid services to private water supply owners (i.e. water testing companies, water treatment companies, water well drillers, etc.)
- You must be willing to pass along basic private water system management knowledge to other private water system owners.
Each volunteer who applies and is accepted into the program will receive details on how to access the new, online MWON online course at no cost. The course includes six chapters covering private water system basics, well and spring construction, water testing, water supply protection, water treatment, water conservation, and outreach strategies. Each chapter includes a mixture of short videos and text along with links to additional resources and a short quiz.Volunteers must answer 70% of the online quiz questions correctly to be certified as a volunteer. The course can be completed at your own pace but must be finished within 60 days from the starting date. A computer with a high speed internet connection is recommended to view all of the course materials and videos.
To fill out an application for the MWON program, visit the Pennsylvania MWON Application website. Volunteers 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, discounted water testing through the Penn State water testing lab, and access to various MWON educational materials. In return, MWON volunteers are asked to pass along what they have learned to other private water supply owners and submit a simple, one-page annual report of their educational accomplishments.
Pennsylvania is home to over one million private water wells and springs but it is one of the few states that does not provide statewide regulations to protect these rural drinking water supplies. In 2004, Penn State Extension and several partner agencies created the Master Well Owner Network (MWON); trained volunteers who are dedicated to promoting the proper construction, testing, and maintenance of private water wells, springs and cisterns throughout Pennsylvania.
Since its inception, hundreds of MWON volunteers have provided education to over 50,000 private water supply owners throughout the state. Volunteers who recently completed the online course stated:
- "The course was very educational and included items that I had not given any thought or concern to. Thank you for the opportunity to get more educated."
- "I have had water wells for over 35 years and had found it difficult to get good information on care and maintenance of existing wells."