CELS students visit farmers markets to educate homeowners about how to protect drinking water

Jordanne Feldman (left) and Nathan Brown pose at their well water education booth at a local farmers market in September. Photo courtesy of Alyson McCann

Many Rhode Islanders visiting farmers markets this year have likely been engaged in conversation by Jordanne Feldman and Nathan Brown. The University of Rhode Island students have spent the summer traveling to farmers markets and other venues to educate private well owners about how to reduce the chance of their drinking water becoming contaminated.

“We talk to them about their well water, how they can test it, and how to improve the quality of their drinking water,” said Brown, a senior environmental economics major from Westerly. “It’s really a quality of life issue. Some people have lived in their house for decades and have never tested their water before.”

While Brown and Feldman say that the quality of Rhode Island well water is generally good, there are numerous factors that could affect it, from a neighbor dumping used motor oil on the ground to over-enthusiastic pesticide use and road salt. And it is the responsibility of the homeowner to monitor and test private wells.

According to Brown, most people don’t know what to test for, how often to test, or what the test results mean. So the reaction to the educational materials they pass out at the farmers markets has been tremendously positive…[Read more]