Many private wells in the United States and Canada already are contaminated, or are at risk of contamination. Regular testing for pathogenic bacteria is one of the most concrete measures well owners can use to determine whether or not their drinking water quality is safe. This study explored the factors and causal relationships that influence well owner water quality testing behavior. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were used to evaluate the stewardship behavior of 22 well owners in Ontario, Canada. Causal networks were created for each interviewee. These were then aggregated to determine key factors and causal relationships. The research revealed that motivations for regular testing include peace of mind and reassurance. Barriers include complacency, inconvenience, and lack of a perceived problem. Knowledge and better information by themselves were found to provide a weak basis for changing behavior. Implications of this research for promoting water testing behavior are discussed.
Keywords: complacency, private wells, pro-environmental behavior, reassurance, stewardship