Innovative Tools for Groundwater Education in Pennsylvania
Over three-million rural residents of Pennsylvania rely on private wells and springs that utilize groundwater for drinking water and more than 50% fail at least one health based drinking water standard. Very few homeowners with contaminated water systems are familiar with the problem or have appropriate water treatment systems to provide safe drinking water. Real estate professionals are an important initial point of contact for rural homeowners in the evaluation of private drinking water supplies. Although Penn State Extension provides many written resources related to private water supplies, better mobile access to these resources is needed to meet the demands of private water supply owners and real estate professionals. The Penn State Extension Water Resources Team worked with Skyward Apps in Columbia, MD to develop an innovative water APP to transfer groundwater-related extension resources to real estate agents, inspectors, and the general public. The H2O Solutions App was created in both Apple and Android platforms and released in 2014. A series of educational workshops for both real estate professionals and private water supply owners were conducted during this project to increase awareness of private water supply management and to market the new App as a mobile resource to assist in evaluating private groundwater supplies. A total of 55 real estate professionals and 412 homeowners attended a workshop with the vast majority reporting that they learned new information and planned on taking action to better manage private water supplies. Interestingly, real estate professionals reported that they interact with an average of 32 private water supply owners each year resulting in another 1,777 private water supply owners that were educated indirectly by this project.