Capacity-Building and Training

Community of Practice

To address the critical public health need for clean and safe private well water for approximately 13.1 million households in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the Private Well Initiative (PWI) in 2010. This initiative created a national workgroup and website for sharing research updates, surveillance data, and promising practices that promote effective strategies to address the risks found in unregulated drinking water systems. Developed as a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Clean Water for Health (CWH) Program, the CoP has historically focused on sharing members’ experiences and best practices with regards to assessing exposures and health effects, public education and outreach, and mitigation strategies focused on improving private well water quality and drinking water-related topics in the United States. If you are interested in joining this effort, please email

Private Well Initiative

About 14 percent of the U.S. population relies on private wells for their drinking water. Ensuring the safety of the water from these wells is primarily the responsibility of the well owner. Many studies have found unsafe levels of chemicals in private wells including radon, arsenic, uranium, manganese, fluoride, nitrates/nitrites, and bacteria. Unlike public water supplies, the U.S. does not have a public health program focused on ensuring the safety of private well systems through surveillance, intervention, education, and evaluation. HSB implemented the Private Well Initiative (PWI) in 2010, first partnering with states and federal agencies along with non-governmental organizations to create a National Workgroup. The PWI addresses many different aspects of the public health impacts from drinking water from private wells and other sources not protected by the US EPA Safe Drinking Water Act (unregulated drinking water sources or UDWS). One very important activity is creating a resource that identifies and promotes access to data characterizing private wells and describing water quantity and quality in private wells and other UDWS. The information is available for the public to use.

Please find available PWI metadata here.

Backer LC, Tosta N. Unregulated drinking water initiative for environmental surveillance and public health pdf icon[PDF – 141 KB]. Journal of Environmental Health. 2011, 73,7:31-32.

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2016