Engaging with Well Owners Provides Chance for Groundwater Education


No better way to reach private well owners than through the well and pump contractors who equip and service their wells.

By Gary L. Hix, RG, CWD/PI

Many of us in the water well industry have been working tirelessly to reach out to and engage private well owners and get them involved and caring more about their domestic water wells.

The National Ground Water Association, Water Systems Council, and American Ground Water Trust, along with many federal, state, and local groups, have been working for years to get in touch with water well customers in order to inform them about their most precious resource: their private well and groundwater.

Collectively, we have promoted National Groundwater Awareness Week, A Day Without Water, Protect Your Groundwater Day, and World Water Day, hosted online seminars and workshops, and utilized many other methods for the purpose of educating private well owners and the public in general. All have resulted in varying degrees of success.

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A boost to the outreach effort came a few years ago from grant support by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for private well owner training and technical assistance. NGWA has received grants in recent years to develop and implement a number of well owner education initiatives. Beginning in 2015 as part of a team partnering with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), NGWA has develop a variety of informational tools for well owners.

Among the NGWA items are:

  • Monthly well owner tip sheets
  • A well owner’s app and corresponding web-based well owner’s manual
  • Online lessons
  • Live and recorded webinars
  • A water well financing video
  • Enhancements to NGWA’s Wellowner.org website

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided grant support for NGWA to conduct research on what makes for effective outreach to private well owners. That research has been publicized at conferences around the country and NGWA has packaged the research for use by private well owner outreach programs nationwide.

Many states like Illinois, Oregon, and Arizona are working closely with Co-Operative Extension Services to promote private well owner educations with webinars, workshops, and publications. Whenever we can’t reach the private well owner directly, many of us have tried alternate routes.

I have personally tried hard to reach private well owners through free workshops on a local level. I have also worked for several years educating realtors and mortgage lenders about domestic wells, including writing an e-book specifically designed to educate them.

There are many avenues that can be explored to connect with private well owners, but there is no better way to reach them than through the well and pump contractors who equip and service their wells.

There is so much more well and pump contractors can do than just service customer wells.  With just a little preparation and perhaps a little additional education water well contractors can take the lead in helping their customers be more engaged in their groundwater and their wells. Once they become more engaged with their water and their wells they begin to better appreciate the vital service water contractors perform and gain a deeper appreciation for groundwater.

Some of us are encouraging private well owners to equip their wells with water meters, and in the least, record monthly the gallons being pumped. In addition, we also encourage them to measure their water level in the well when the depths are within a practical range.

I have shown customers how to make up a simple dedicated wire line sounder with parts available at about any hardware store. Recognize not every customer is willing and capable of monitoring their own well in this detail, but many others are and they enjoy doing it and learning more about their wells.

Another benefit of getting well owners engaged is they begin managing their water better, and knowing how much water you pump in normal conditions helps you manage your resource better in times of drought where it’s essential to closely manage your groundwater resource.

Monitoring well pumpage can also tell well owners if they have developed a water leak that is silently wasting their resource.

Water well contractors should begin to see the benefits of connecting with their customers at a different level than just replacing their well pump and motor and handing them a bill. Instead, contractors should hand them a packet of information about water wells from one of the many sources and suggest they get engaged in observing and seeing their water well in a different light.

Often the water well is the single most significant improvement to their real estate—even more than the home. You can’t live in a home without water, so encourage well owners to begin to see their water well in that light.

Gary L. Hix, RG, CWD/PI, is a registered professional geologist in Arizona, a Certified Well Driller/Pump Installer by NGWA, and a Certified Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. He is the 2019 Groundwater Foundation McEllhiney Lecturer and has authored many articles on subjects related to well drilling issues for NGWA’s Water Well Journal. He can be reached at gary.hix@cox.net.