Natural Disaster Emergency Response to Private Well User Needs: Evaluation of a Pilot Outreach Approach

After a flood, private well users are recommended to disinfect their well to eliminate potential microbial contamination but research gaps exist on user implementation of recommended procedures. This study evaluated a distance education class on well disinfection after severe flooding that was piloted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Participants submitted a well water sample for microbial analysis and completed pre- and post-class surveys. Water samples tested positive for total coliforms among 33% of well users with an income >$85,000, 85.7% with an income between $45,000 and $85,000, and 75% with an income <$45,000. Comparing participant responses on pre- and post-class surveys indicated 88% of participants improved knowledge of disinfection procedures and 46% improved well disinfection technical knowledge; however, 59% of participants who did not learn the technical steps reported increased confidence in independent well disinfection post-class. Online tools such as chlorine dose calculators could improve disinfection outcomes for those with a limited understanding of technical concepts. Evaluation of this education program provides a preliminary understanding of educational needs and highlights the potential value of distance education classes to facilitate well disinfection after natural disasters.

This research was published in the September 2020 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health, Volume 83, Number 2, National Environmental Health Association ( This publication was authored by Aubrey E. Gilliland, MPH, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Drew M. Gholson, PhD, Mississippi State University Extension Diane E. Boellstorff, PhD, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Kelsey J. Pieper, PhD, Department of Civil and Environmental, Engineering, Northeastern University, Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, MPH, PhD, Adrienne Katner, MS, DEnv, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.

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