Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 6.8 Scenario 8: Digital Camera Speeds Diagnosis of Contaminated Well

07/06/1995

A county resident with a backyard well complains to the local health department that mud and silt are coming out of the water taps in his house. A local county health inspector comes to take water samples and to inspect the interior of the well. He lowers a portable, waterproof "endoscope" with attached digital camera into the well and sees a break in the well casing about 15 feet down. The well will have to be rebuilt. The onsite inspector needs a second opinion to determine whether the problem is due to faulty installation or some subsequent cause. He sends the digital pictures directly to the state division for wells via a wireless connection to the Internet. NII technology is making cases such as this one less common. A computer search of all state well permits identifies similar wells so that owners can consider corrective action before experiencing them in the kitchen sink. Because the well "endoscope" often can prove substandard construction, contractors have an incentive to build wells right the first time.