Oconee Co. Well Water Quality

Summary

Local Oconee Co. homeowners learn how to properly manage and maintain quality well water that is safe to drink.

Situation

Well water quantity and quality are important issues for Oconee Co. citizens and its future inhabitants. Currently the county’s water infrastructure of being able to have local services doesn’t support the entire county population. While this has its good points in maintaining the semi-rural setting of the county but also drawbacks in that numerous single family homes are responsible for their own drinking water supply. Private wells comprise over three fourths of single-family homes in Oconee County. Presently, countless wells and wellhouses for individual families have become an out of sight, out of mind structure that serves no purpose until the water is unavailable or serious issues occur that cause a significant quality problem. In addition, many homes that are bought and sold must have a satisfactory well water quality report for ownership changes. As a result, Oconee County has thousands of residents that utilize underground aquifers for drinking water who lack the proper knowledge to protect the integrity of the well and understanding of U.S. Drinking Water Standards. It is imperative that UGA Extension increase the knowledge of individual homeowners of obtaining and having good quality drinking water.

Response

In December 2017, UGA Water specialists and Extension agents formed an extension well water team to address local and state well water issues. The well water team wanted to pattern the successful educational programing after Virginia Tech University Well Water program. As a result, the UGA Extension Well Water Team developed an educational program that could be delivered to local citizens to educate them about underground aquifers, well head protection, and water quality issues that affect local homeowners. Over the past three years Oconee County Extension conducted a yearly well water training for local home owners to have a better understanding of issues related to household wells and how to address them appropriately and effectively. In addition, the Extension agent has done wellhouse assessments, well water quality checks and partnered with local well water drilling company to help educate local citizens.

Impact

Local home owners gained significant knowledge from the educational class and one on one interventions from the county Extension agent. Over 85% of clients that utilize Extension services stated that they have learned how to properly shock existing wells and test for total coliform and E.coli. 75% of homeowners learned how to effectively evaluate well head from potential breech. Over 80% of class participants stated that they would test their wells once a year for quality standards for Minerals and Microbiology. Over 60 participants have received proper education of private wellheads and well water diagnosis.

State Issue

Sustainability, Conservation, and the Environment

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: County
  • County: Oconee
  • Location: J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center, Watkinsville
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

    Stephens, C. Monte
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