Use of the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey to Assess the Safety of Private Drinking Water Supplies

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Project Number:

WR08R001

Other Project Number:

2008WI306O

Funding Year:

2008

Contract Period:

7/1/2008 - 6/30/2010

Funding Source:

UWS

Investigator(s):
PIs:
  • Lynda Knobeloch, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • Marty Kanarek, UW-Madison
Abstract:

Over 850,000 households in Wisconsin use a privately-owned well as a drinking water source. Unlike households supplied by municipal water, private wells are not regulated and therefore do not require regular testing. Testing of private water supplies may be limited by several factors such as household income and knowledge of testing procedures and water quality parameters. Despite the private well tracking efforts by the DNR’s Groundwater Retrieval Network (GRN), the Center for Watershed Science and Education, and DATCPs’ groundwater database, there are many data gaps. We know very little about families that test their well water and even less about those that do not. We are particularly interested in learning more about the testing of wells that are used by infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly and hope to learn more about how rural families use their well water and monitor its safety, and about their perception of the quality of their well water. The proposed research involves the addition of a private water supply module to the 2009 Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. This work is intended to improve our understanding of the number and location of families that need assistance or information regarding drinking water safety and make it easier for public health care providers and water supply consultants to provide targeted outreach to this population. Findings will be used by state and local agencies to address data gaps and the need for additional educational, professional and financial resources to increase awareness and minimize exposure to common groundwater contaminants like enteric pathogens, arsenic, nitrate, and carcinogenic VOCs.

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