PrivateWellClass. org—an online technical assistance program for private well owners

Steven D. Wilson, Jennifer Wilson, Cassia Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


An innovative, email-based class that helps private well owners better understand the geology, hydrology, and construction features of their wells has been developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A series of 10 lessons, delivered via email using a staggered, self-paced approach, provide guidance on dealing with common well maintenance issues and problems. Other topics include source water protection, sampling, interpreting results, home treatment, and emergency situations. The lessons were developed to be a basic, but comprehensive, class that well owners could use to become better stewards of their wells and nearby groundwater. One lesson is sent to the participant’s email address each week for 10 weeks. Pre- and post-tests, as well as an evaluation, allow students to provide feedback for improving the class. The program has been marketed through state agencies responsible for well construction and driller registration, cooperative extension, and public health agencies, all of which were contacted by phone and/or email. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership has marketed the program throughout their network of technical assistance providers and trainers. Social media provide additional marketing and a more personal approach to participants who have questions. The website includes an email address for participants to ask specific questions. In the first six months of the project, nearly 2200 people nationwide have signed up for the lessons. Participants include private well owners, sanitarians from local health departments, operators of small water systems, and other interested stakeholders. We will provide an overview of the material covered, discuss how marketing and social media have been used to support the project, and provide results from the pre- and post-testing. We will also share results from participant evaluations which describe what they liked and didn’t like, what they would change, and their suggestions for improving this new well owner education program.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2013


  • ISWS


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