Ecology and Environmental Science
Laura Kati Corlew, Kiley Daly, Robert Glover
Private well water is an essential resource in the state of Maine, as over 38% of
the state’s population relies on it every day (Johnson et al. 2020). Unprotected by the provisions of the national Clean Water Act of 1974, which keeps public drinking water sources safe through regulation, well owners have to protect themselves against harmful environmental contaminants that threaten their water. However, as noted by research and leaders in the drinking water field, well owners generally have low well testing behaviors, leaving their safety up to fate. A common reason for this, as research as observed more than once, is a lack of effective outreach and communication about the risks well owners take by not testing their wells.
The research for this case study took place in the rural northern towns of Glenburn, Levant, and Kenduskeag, Maine. By disseminating a survey to well owners, this study aimed to compare observed testing behaviors to those established in prior research, measure the extent of communication that these well owners had received, as well as make recommendations on how leaders in the field could better communicate with well owners. Results showed that the surveyed population had higher than expected well testing, but low knowledge on testing and the risks that threaten them if they forego it. Respondents also demonstrated that their experience with communication about their well was very infrequent, however, that mail communications would be most effective when deciding whether or not to test. Careful analysis of audience, as well as the inclusion of specific and transparent information have been recommended to officials who wish to increase well testing behavior.
Greenwood, James, "Assessing State Communication of Resources and Education Effectiveness for Well Owners in Northern Maine: A Case Study" (2022). Honors College. 774.