MWON volunteers Tom Zordan (left) and Chris Schlegel (right) provide education to private waters supply owners at Ag Progress Days in August 2018. (photo by Bryan Swistock)
Nearly three million rural Pennsylvania residents rely on a private well, spring or cistern for their drinking water. Penn State surveys have shown that approximately 40% of these water supplies fail at least one health-based drinking water standard and most homeowners are unaware of best management practices to improve their drinking water. In 2004, Penn State Extension created the Master Well Owner Network (MWON). This volunteer network is dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based education for private water supply owners in Pennsylvania. Funding for the Penn State MWON program is provided annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Ground Water Association.
In the past year, the MWON program trained 20 new volunteers joining a network of nearly 200 active volunteers in 53 counties. These volunteers dedicated over 2,000 hours of their time to educate 4,467 private water supply owners through conversations, presentations, and displays at events. Follow-up surveys have found that about 75% of homeowners who receive education from a MWON volunteer take some action to improve their drinking water supply.
MWON volunteers and Extension coordinators also provided 24 Safe Drinking Water Clinics in 17 counties for 736 private water supply owners. These two-hour programs provided free, onsite water testing for 532 households. An additional 888 participants viewed one of the recorded webinars on the MWON or Extension websites related to private water system management. In May 2018 MWON also partnered with numerous agencies to present the 2018 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium which provided professional development for over 250 groundwater professionals from across the state.
Since the inception of MWON in 2004, 779 MWON volunteers have dedicated 16,813 hours of their time to directly educate 52,585 private water supply owners. Additional indirect education through newsletters, newspapers and publications has been provided to over 100,000 private water supply owners throughout the state.
To learn more about the Master Well Owner Network and their activities, visit their website.