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Engaging partners and empowering communities: establishing a well water network in Alabama
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2022 Authors: Curl J.N.
Cooperative Extension Services serve as a repository of information to a wide breadth of clients nationwide in search of reliable, science-based materials. In Alabama, there were limited resources for private well owners prior to development of the Alabama Private Well Program (APWP) in 2020. Administration and Extension field staff indicated the need for a program to assist county offices in addressing the needs of a client base previously overlooked.
APWP follows the precedent of established Extension led well water programs. The APWP's purpose is to build capacity to County based Extension professionals through trainings and resources to address frequent questions and concerns from well owners.
As the pilot stage of the program continues, entities from across Alabama continue to express interest in well water educational materials. This is evident in the diverse audience that attended the well water webinar series, initially intended for Extension personnel. Professionals from regulatory agencies, non-profit organizations, power utilities, and financial institutions were strongly supportive of the program and aided in the development of a multi-agency and Extension network.
Approaching its third year, the APWP will begin hosting workshops throughout the state for private well owners. The APWP workshops will give an opportunity to well owners to have their water tested, while simultaneously creating a database of demographic information and well characteristics to be used to plan subsequent workshops and determine where bacterial contamination is most present in the state. APWP directly benefits homeowners who rely on private wells for drinking water while addressing a statewide need for well water resources beyond homeowners. This presentation will explore the approach to collecting well characteristics and the impact of a multi-agency partnership on building a new Extension program.