Texas Well Owner Network

Texas Well Owner Network

The Texas Well Owner Network (TWON) is an educational training program developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in the Departments of Soil & Crop Sciences and Biological & Agricultural Engineering in partnership with the Texas Water Resource Institute. TWON trains well owners regarding water quality best Management practices for protecting their wells and surface waters, which will avert off-site transport of contaminants such as bacteria and nitrates, two of the most common contaminants in private water wells in Texas, as well as the most frequent cause of stream impairment or concern.  TWON works with other project partners to support current watershed protection planning and implementation efforts.

Well Educated & Well Informed

The TWON program is delivered in two forms including “Well Educated,” which is a day long course and “Well Informed,” which is an hour long program.  The “Well Educated” course covers aquifers, household wells, improving and protecting water resources, groundwater resources, septic system maintenance, well maintenance and construction, water quality and water treatment.  The “Well-Informed” program is one hour in length and focuses on wellhead protection and recommendations for remediating well contamination.  For both types of programs, well owners can bring in water samples for screening for fecal coliform bacteria, nitrate-nitrogen and salinity.   

The TWON curriculum is compiled into a full-color handbook that includes course material, as well as a comprehensive glossary of terms and three appendices providing detailed information on federal, state, and local water quality agencies and organizations; national primary drinking water standards with maximum contaminant levels (MCL) and potential health effects listed; and an index of water issues and their symptoms, possible sources and treatment options. The program is delivered through training events by a team of professionals using high-quality visual aids and hands-on teaching stations.  Those team members include Joel Pigg, TWON Project Coordinator; Dr. Diane Boellstorff, Associate Professor and State Water Resources Specialist; John W. Smith, Program Specialist-Water; and Ryan Gerlich, Extension Program Specialist.     

To date, 30 “Well Educated” and 63 “Well Informed” training programs have been conducted. In all, more than 9,500 private water well owners have been trained and/or their samples have been screened. Results from pre- and post-test evaluations indicate that knowledge was increased for 100% of the participants. On average, participants increased their program test scores from 52% pre-program to 79% post-program. When asked how much the program was worth to them personally, participants indicated an average of about $786 per participant, for a total of $7,467,000 across all participants.

Program Coordinator Joel Pigg is a former GCD General Manager. He is hoping to engage his former GCD colleagues and host trainings in areas that have yet to hold a TWON training. The trainings offer GCDs a chance to get to know more local well owners and be of service to them by facilitating well screenings and educational training.  He hopes to build off collaborations that have occurred in the last several years and expand to other areas where programming is needed.

Helpful Resources

TWON website: here you can find a copy of the training manual along with many fact sheets and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension publications that are relevant to water issues across the State of Texas.

Program Coordinator Joel Pigg can be reached at 979-845-1461 or j-pigg@tamu.edu