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Nicole Colston and Heath Stanfield posing behind an OSU booth.
Oklahoma State University faculty member Nicole Colston (left) and Heath Stanfield, manager of McAlester Public Library, work a table at a rural library as part of the Oklahoma Well Owner Network. With a new grant, the program has expanded to include two water well screenings per year in seven rural counties. (Photo by OSU Agriculture)

Oklahoma Well Owner Network adding libraries to its mix

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Media Contact: Alisa Boswell-Gore | Office of Communications & Marketing, OSU Agriculture | 405-744-7115 |

The Oklahoma Well Owner Network has expanded to libraries after receiving the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Rural Health and Safety Education grant.

One in eight Americans get their drinking water from a private well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but privately owned wells are not regulated by federal or state governments. The Oklahoma Well Owner Network was created in 2022 as a way for county Extension educators to provide well water screening events and other educational materials to Oklahoma well owners.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Center is partnering with the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health, OSU Extension and the Southeast Oklahoma Library System to advance public health programming in southeast Oklahoma. With the implementation of this grant, the well owner program will host two water well screenings per year in each of the library system counties: Choctaw, Coal, McCurtain, Latimer, LeFlore, Pittsburg and Haskell.

“The Oklahoma Office of Rural Health is eager to work with the Oklahoma Water Resources Center to improve the health and well-being of rural Oklahomans,” said Corie Kaiser, Oklahoma Office of Rural Health director. “Water sources are often overlooked as an important quality of life variable in rural communities.”

The program will include informational displays at 16 rural libraries, as well as host six safe drinking water awareness events in coordination with Oklahoma Department of Health mobile health unit visits to partner libraries. An outcome of the grant will be developing water quality risk heat maps to engage the community in understanding county-level health impacts and solutions.

“We are thrilled about the collaborative effort between the library system, OSU Extension and the well owner network in conducting well water testing,” said Shannon Grice, Southeast Oklahoma Library System program coordinator. “This initiative is pivotal in ensuring the safety and quality of our community’s water resources.”

The Oklahoma Well Owner Network also creates and distributes educational materials on household well water contaminants, health impacts, water testing and water quality improvement. Alongside these events, researchers host drinking water quality education programs and regional water quality health assessments.

Upcoming educational programs can be found on the Oklahoma Water Resources Center website. For more information on future events, email

“I am so thankful to Southeast Oklahoma libraries for their continued support of our water education programs,” said Nicole Colston, Oklahoma Water Resources Center assistant research professor. “These libraries are critical partners in communicating about screening events in rural and small communities.”

Other project staff include research specialists Jeff Sadler, Nicole Colston and Abu Mansaray and water center director Kevin Wagner.

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