As reported by this blog, the use of custom databases can greatly improve the efficiency of public service organizations. Much like the case of Baltimore firefighters requiring an updated database for a more thorough understanding of the hazardous chemicals present in a building that needs their assistance, the Knox County Health Department in Tennessee is beginning a custom database of citizens who own wells, regardless if they use them as a source of water, says the Knoxville News Sentinel.
"Knowing who uses well water is important for safeguarding the water supply," Al Iannacone, the environmental epidemiologist for the county's Health Department told the news source. "If danger is imminent, such as in the case of flooding, it would enable health officials to provide proactive safety guidance to well water users. It also would greatly assist public health response efforts during and after the emergency."
The database began in 2009 as a response to the 2002 contamination of 17 South Knox County wells and a 2008 fire near an illegal landfill in West Knox County that threatened many wells near a prominent residential area. According to the Health Department, roughly 2,000 citizens may use wells as a source of water in Knoxville County. Furthermore, the Environment Protection Agency estimates 10,000 wells may exist in the area. So far, only 30 percent have been identified.
Being able to maintain and administer an accurate database of this information is imperative for the health of the county's residents, as the Health Department will use the database as a way to track which wells need to be tested and which should be updated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once a well is 20 years old, owners should have a licensed driller and pump installer decommission the older well and construct a new one. Maintaining a custom database will allow both Health Department officials and citizens to know this information.
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