05/11 - Know Your Well project moves into second year

By: Christopher Olson

Our Nebraska Environmental Trust-funded “Know Your Well” project, led by Ashok Samal and coordinated through the Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory (WSL) has just finished a successful first year.

Four Nebraska high schools, Waverly, Auburn, Newman Grove and Central City, led the way in getting this unique educational opportunity for high school students off the ground. Participating students have completed sampling local rural domestic water wells around their home town and area. Starting late last spring, high school students were trained in sampling and recording field observations from up to 20 domestic wells from a 20-mile radius surrounding their school.

Those participating completed testing for various analytes that might indicate a problem with well water quality. They have uploaded all of their data into a “Know Your Well” computer application developed by UNL Computer Science and Engineering graduate students that allows them to view their results on the “Know Your Well” website.

Students will compare their test results to results from samples they collected and sent to the WSL. They can use the data to statistically evaluate the similarities and differences between their results and those from the WSL. Laboratory results are supple to each well owner for participating with the “Know Your Well” project.

Year two of “Know Your Well” is now underway and four to six additional schools are planned to be included from across Nebraska. These presently include Freeman, Stuart, Cody-Kilgore, Madison and possibly Osmond and one other. The goal for this three-year project is to give a wide variety high school students in agriculture and science classes from across the state opportunities to learn about proper well sampling for potential groundwater contaminants. They will also learn what to do if specific contaminants are found in drinking water.

For more information on the Know Your Well project, go online to knowyourwell.unl.edu

The WSL is part of the Nebraska Water Center and part of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska.