Well owner program educating on water quality, drought
A new Texas AgriLife Extension Service program and its recently appointed coordinator started just in time to give private water well owners advice and education about taking care of their private water wells, especially during drought.
AgriLife Extension program specialist Kristine Uhlman coordinates the Texas Well Owner Network (TWON), a science-based, community education program focusing on protecting groundwater quality and aquifer integrity.
“More than a million private water wells in Texas provide water to citizens in rural areas and to those living in small acreages at the growing rural-urban interface,” Uhlman said. “Because private well owners are responsible for monitoring the quality of their wells, they are at a greater risk for exposure to compromised water quality.”
The TWON program is educating private well owners about potential pollutant sources and what steps can be taken to lessen potential impacts from these sources, she said.
And during drought, Uhlman said rural water well owners should be mindful of conservation and management. She said rural water wells, in some instances, have begun ‘sucking air’ due to low water tables, Uhlman said. Though problem reports have been few, properly managing well pumps and practicing conservation will help prevent costly equipment problems and possibly running out of water.
“When listening to the pump, you need to make sure that it’s not turning on and then off repeatedly,” said Uhlman. “If the well is sucking air, you need to immediately turn the pump off and let it rest a while, allowing water levels to rebound. If the pump is cycling on and off, that’s going to be doing more damage to both your well equipment and water quality.”
The Texas Well Owner Network is a collaboration of the Texas Water Resources Institute, AgriLife Extension’s departments of soil and crop sciences and biological and agricultural engineering, and the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts. Funding for the Texas Well Owners Network is provided by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a Clean Water Act nonpoint source grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.