Private Water Network
NEHA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Network of Public Health Institutes to establish the Private Water Network (PWN). The purpose of the PWN is to build a virtual community for public health professionals from state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental agencies who support private water programs to connect with their peers, to share experiences, insights, and resources, and to gain access to timely and relevant guidance for emerging issues.
Over 15 million U.S. households rely on private water systems for drinking water. These systems include private (or household) wells, cisterns, water storage tanks, and trucked water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is responsible for making sure that the public water supply within the U.S. is safe. However, U.S. EPA does not monitor or treat private well drinking water. Owners of private wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe from contaminants. Water can have biological, chemical, and physical contaminants. Some contaminants result in acute (or immediate) effects; others present a threat only following chronic (or long-term) exposure. Of local health departments, 56% regulate, inspect, or license private drinking water in their community. In addition to conducting surveillance and shaping policy, strong public health programs can help people with wells or other private water systems find potential problems and take steps to address them. Drinking water programs can identify individuals and facilities served by private drinking water sources and make recommendations about:
• how and when to test the water,
• how to interpret test results and what contaminants were found in the water,
• services and products and where to find additional information, and
• interventions to address contaminants found in the drinking water.
Currently, there is no “go-to” resource for peer learning and information exchange for state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental agency environmental health specialists that serve communities with private drinking water sources/systems. The Private Water Network is being established to fill that void.
The mission of the Network is to build a sustainable community for those working to support private water programs; to connect with their peers, to share experiences, insights, and resources, and to gain access to timely and relevant guidance for existing and emerging issues; and to build capacity to do the work more effectively and efficiently in order to protect the public’s health from contaminants in private water sources.
Events and Updates
- SafeWATCH Grantee Webinar - NEHA hosted the Grantee Webinar on Thursday, December 13, 2018 (1:30 PM EST – 2:45 PM EST) to help inform the development of a Private Water Network. CDC’s Safe WATCH program has been working with NEHA to develop a Private Water Network to provide peer support to environmental health specialists working in public health agencies that deliver services to well-owners and users of other federally unregulated drinking water sources. NEHA and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) designed the webinar to gain more insight into the interests and needs of environmental health specialists and the value of a network.
- PWN Design Workshop - NEHA is hosting the PWN Design Workshop meeting with the Safe WATCH grantees on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, in Denver. Nine SafeWATCH grantees attended a workshop. We refined our mission and vision for the PWN and designed a number of member activities to test out in the coming months, including live office hours with experts and curated informational emails.
VIEW DESIGN WORKSHOP UPDATE