Spreading Well Awareness
Educated homeowners make a driller’s job easier.
September 13, 2011 By Heather Kirby
How many times have you, as a well contractor, come up against a
frustrated homeowner who wants his or her “water fixed” but is shocked
at your estimate?
How many times have you, as a well contractor, come up against a frustrated homeowner who wants his or her “water fixed” but is shocked at your estimate?
Part of the problem is that many well owners don’t really understand what it takes to get good, clean water into their homes.
That’s where Well Aware comes in. Over time, Well Aware wants to change the culture of Ontario well owners, from one of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” to one that respects the challenges of providing safe, good, clean water.
Well Aware is an Ontario-wide program delivered by members of Green Communities Canada for 10 years. It’s financially supported by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and endorsed by the Ontario Ground Water Association, Association of Professional Geoscientists, Conservation Ontario, Association of Supervisors of Public Health Inspectors of Ontario and many more. The program provides the Well Aware booklet, kits of localized information, and expert presentations to organizations working with rural well owners such as health units, conservation authorities and building officials. Program officials also deliver the very popular Guided Self Assessments (home visits). The home visit engages them in a discussion about how water works on their property so they understand why taking care of their water is important.
“It was sort of like being back in Grade 7 learning about the water cycle,” said one well owner. “Except it was how the water cycle applied to my own property. I learned and understood so much. It was excellent.”
Everyone feels slightly defensive, and maybe even embarrassed, when someone else is assessing his or her property. To ease the defences, Well Aware validates the good intentions while gently pointing out the not-so-good intentions. Most people genuinely feel that what they have done to their property is acceptable; this is the “if it ain’t broke” part. Supporting homeowners’ intentions by providing a better method encourages them to step up their efforts, change some practices and take appropriate actions.
During Well Aware’s two-hour home visit, homeowners are debunked of rural water myths and handed-down knowledge; appreciates technological and knowledge advancements that support upgrades and changes; and defines the necessary steps to provide clean, clear and safe drinking water to family and friends.
Well Aware provides a description of the recommended work and strongly advises the homeowner to use a licensed well contractor instead of doing the work themselves or hiring a handyman. Describing the equipment necessary for the work provides a visual image that supports the extent of the work that the well contractor can do. Well Aware highlights that training and experience are essential for decision-making when all you see is two feet of pipe and a 100-foot well. Expressing that all of these things do count helps prepare the homeowner for when they call a well contractor.
The peer-to-peer communication provides a level of comfort and allows the homeowner to open up to ask questions, and more importantly, listen to the responses. When the homeowner is armed with accurate information and the reasons behind it, they are able to make rational decisions in times of stress. This fosters a positive well maintained relationship with you, the contractor, while protecting the ground water.
Heather Kirby is the program manager of Well Aware for Green Communities Canada. For more information, booklets and resources, contact Heather at 705-745-7479, ext. 114, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wellaware.ca.
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