UA Researchers Receive Grant to Study Water Quality Awareness

Congratulations to University of Arizona (UA) investigators Dr. Mary Kay O’Rourke and Marlene Dermody, as well as Kristine Uhlman, Kristen Pogreba-Brown, and UA Superfund Research Program (SRP) investigator Dr. Walter Klimecki on receiving an Outreach and Education grant from the UA Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) Water Sustainability Program (WSP). The funded project will compare four outreach methods to determine the most effective way to engage rural domestic well users in water quality awareness. In addition, the project will provide data on arsenic content through the distribution of no-cost, mail-in water sampling kits.

Private drinking water wells are not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and may contain contaminants such as arsenic. Well users may not be aware of the presence of arsenic, and/or of the chronic health effects associated with its ingestion. In this study, rural well users will be informed of the issue and invited to participate in water testing via: newspaper advertisements; invitations to water workshops; targeted mailings; and telephone surveys. Participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire regarding demographics, water quality awareness, outreach awareness, and their decision to participate. The outreach methods will be evaluated and compared based on the number of people reached, number of water samples received for testing, questionnaire results, and cost-effectiveness of the method. Participants will be contacted with water testing results.

It is expected that this project will raise the present water quality awareness of participants, as well as inform researchers on the most effective method(s) for engaging rural domestic well users in the future.