A range of topics from around the industry are highlighted.

Biofuels Straining Our Water Resources

Boosting ethanol pro-duction by growing more corn in the United States without considering the quality and availability of water by region could put a significant strain on water resources in some parts of the country, a committee of the National Research Council recently reported.

The report’s authors, who include Professor Dara Entekhabi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Department of Civil and Envi-ronmental Engin-eering, recommend that conversion of U.S. agriculture to biofuel cultivation should only be undertaken in tandem with regional water assessments, the adoption of environmentally sound farming practices, and consideration of the full life cycle of biofuel production.

“Agricultural shifts to growing corn and expanding biofuel crops into regions with little agriculture, especially dry areas, could change current irrigation practices and greatly increase pressure on water resources in many parts of the United States,” the committee notes. “The amount of rainfall and other hydroclimate conditions from region to region causes significant variations in the water requirement for the same crop.”

The report also urges big agriculture to adopt new technologies that can increase crop yield, while conserving water and reducing negative envi-ronmental impacts, such as soil erosion and runoff pollution. “We must recognize that the current state of the U.S. agri-ecosystem is not sustainable,” stresses Entekhabi, a hydrologist who studies land-atmosphere processes, and is director of MIT’s Parsons Laboratory for Environmental Science and Engineering. “The use of energy-intensive and industrially produced fertilizers and pesticides are finding their way into water and food supplies for humans and animals. Soil er- osion and loss of soil fertility is continuing unabated. U.S. agriculture needs to shift to more ecologically sound and sustainable conditions.”

Other recommendations of the committee include looking at the possibility that biofuel crops could be irrigated with wastewater that is biologically and chemically unsuitable for use with food crops; the development of water-efficient genetically modified crops for biofuels production; and the minimization of erosion by producing biofuels from perennial crops such as switchgrass, which hold soil and nutrients in place better than most row crops.

We've Got Mail from Readers - and Writers

Getting Out Is Tough

Thank you for a most interesting and informative article that was published in National Driller (“Graceful Exiting – Getting out of the contracting business can be harder than starting one,” Oct. issue). My brother and I are going through the selling process at this time. We have retained a broker but, in six months, we have seen very few, if any, results. Our business is in its third generation and will be 80 years old next year. Our grandfather started it in 1928 as a sideline to his garage/filling station and dry-land farming businesses. His attempts to get an irrigation well drilled are what sparked his interest in drilling water wells. A couple of years ago, I presented to my father the theoretical question, “Could a young man be expected to pay for the company out of profits from the company operations?” If the answer is no, then the question must be asked, “Is there really a business here to be sold, or is it just a collection of trucks, tools and equipment?” Your question – is it a business, or is it a job for my brother and me? – hit our situation right on the head. We have made a good living for the last 32 years, but we have had to endure some really lean times. It helps to have a wife teaching fourth grade.

In our case, I did not feel that there was much of a chance to sell it as a going business because there are no personnel to go with the business. Also, the licensing of drillers and pump installers in the state of Texas makes it very hard to continue a company operation unless it is bought out by another water well contracting business. We are fortunate that we have several big pieces of equipment that can go back to the oilfield where equipment is bring premium prices while oil is at such a high price per barrel.

Thanks again for the very informative thoughts on small business sales.

Murray McKinley
McKinley Drilling Co., Pearsall, Texas

Support Your Industry

On Oct. 12, the Virginia Water Well Association presented an onsite water well drilling, well logging demonstration and barbeque at a residence in Virginia Beach, Va. Bundick Well & Pump Co., Painter, Va., and Creason Well and Pump Co., Zuni, Va., presented a great water well drilling and well-logging demonstration. About 75 people from all over Virginia attended, some as far away as the southwest part of the state.

I was advised that only about four drillers out of some 25-plus drillers from the Virginia Beach area attended. I am disappointed in the Virginia Beach drillers for not supporting their own state organization. The Virginia Water Well Association presented the demonstration in Virginia Beach in an attempt to get the Virginia Beach Drillers involved.

Come on, people! Support the industry that you earn your living from. Join, get involved with and support your state well drillers organizations.

Porky Cutter, MGWC

WQA Library Expansion

With the addition of five new publications, information about water well drilling, plumbing and engineering issues now is available through the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) vast online Water Information Library, which allows professionals and members of the public to easily locate thousands of articles about water treatment issues.

The Water Information Library, available at www.wqa.org, allows Internet searches into the content of 13 publications, providing comprehensive technical information, news, marketing ideas and product information.

The new additions are published by BNP Media. They areNational Driller, Supply House Times, Plumbing & Mechanical, PM EngineerandReeves Journal. In addition to joining the library, they are linking their own Web sites to WQA. They join other magazines that cover almost every water treatment issue from many different perspectives.

“From members of the public to the most educated professional, answers are a few keyboard strokes away,” says Peter Censky, WQA’s executive director. “We are thrilled to be linked with BNP’s publications to make our library even more useful.”

The Water Information Library opened in 2004. Since then, it has proven its value by becoming the fourth most requested page on the WQA Web site. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken advantage of the resource. Consumers use the library to look into products and issues unique to their own lifestyles, while professionals often turn to it for unusual technical data or to learn how to improve their operations. Even journalists and students have found the library can offer 24/7 background material for their assignments.

The other participating magazines in the library areAqua Latinoamerica, Water & Wastewater International, Water Quality Products, Water-World, Industrial Water-World, Water & Wastes Digest, Water Conditioning & Purification andWater Technology.