Natural disaster emergency response to private well user needs: Evaluation of a pilot outreach approach

Aubrey E. Gilliland, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Drew M. Gholson, Mississippi State University
Diane E. Boellstorff, Texas A&M AgriLife
Kelsey J. Pieper, Northeastern University
Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Adrienne Katner, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans


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.