Read his perspective on happenings around the industry.

Stanrail Acquires DeepRock

Stanrail, a leading supplier of engineered pro-ducts for the railroad industry has acquired Deep-Rock Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of portable drilling rigs  and equipment. Deep-Rock Manufacturing builds, sells and services drilling equipment sold througout the United States and around the world since 1961. Stanrail will continue to manufacture and sell the entire line of DeepRock equipment under the name of DeepRock. The entire staff and employees of DeepRock Manufacturing will remain, with the exception of Dan Wright, president and sole principal, who will be retiring after a short transition period.

“I see nothing but a great future for current and future DeepRock customers,” says Wright. “The geothermal heat pump market is hot right now with energy prices going up and up, and DeepRock is committed to working with drillers to provide equipment that is smaller, more powerful and more portable, and will let installers get the holes in faster and at a lower cost. I will miss all my friends and customers in the drilling industry, but I am looking forward to learning how to get that little white ball in that even smaller hole with that terrible crooked stick!”

Geothermal Happenings

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium Inc. (GHPC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to foster cooperation in addressing shared interests involving ground water and geothermal heating and cooling.

Specifically, the agreement between the groups is intended to serve common interests in:
  • Promoting national energy efficiency and environmental protection.

  • Protecting ground water from contamination.

  • Creating business opportunities for qualified drilling contractors.

  • Creating business opportunities for manufacturers and distributors of drilling equipment and related products.
NGWA executive director Kevin McCray and GHPC executive director John Kelly signed the agreement.

“With the geothermal heating and cooling market on the rise, it only makes sense for our two organizations to work closely together to use and protect ground water,” McCray says. “Both our organizations are committed to high standards of professionalism that will help ensure the health and vitality of this market.”

Kelly adds, “Drilling contractors are the key to the proper installation of the ground heat exchangers that allow geothermal heat pump systems to outperform other heating and cooling technologies. By working together, we can grow the capacity needed to meet the accelerating demand for these systems.”

In a related matter, NGWA will host the 2008 Geothermal and Horizontal Drilling Forum: Diversification and Cross-training Strategies on Aug. 25-26 in Columbus, Ohio. The forum will provide workshops and real-world training, as well as the chance to meet one-on-one with industry leaders in geothermal design, installation and equipment manufacturing. Horizontal directional drilling and geothermal drilling feature new technologies and applications, and they present tremendous business diversification opportunities for all segments of the ground water industry.

A recentNational DrillerWeb poll ( asked readers about their involvement in the geothermal drilling market. The results:
  • We’re currently doing geothermal work – 56 percent
  • We’re strongly considering it – 31 percent
  • Maybe we’ll be looking into it – 6 percent
  • Not happening anytime soon – 6 percent

Water Transfer Clarification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new rule to clarify that permits are not required for transfers of water from one body of water to another. Such transfers include routing water through tunnels, channels or natural stream courses for public water supplies, irrigation, power generation, flood control and environmental restoration.  “EPA’s Water Transfer Rule gives communities greater certainty, and makes clear they have the flexibility to protect water quality and promote the public good without going through a new federal permitting process,” says the agency’s Benjamin Grumbles. “Clean water permits should focus on water pollution, not water movement. EPA is committed to working with our state, tribal and local partners to reduce environmental impacts associated with transfers and will continue to use all appropriate tools such as standards, best management practices, and watershed plans.”

Thousands of water transfers currently in place across the country are vital to the nation’s water supply and infrastructure systems. Whether a permit is needed under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) has been an issue in numerous court cases in recent years. The final rule defines water transfers as an activity that conveys or connects waters of the United States without subjecting the transferred water to intervening industrial, municipal or commercial use. Pollutants introduced by the water-transfer activity itself to the water being transferred would still require an NPDES permit under today’s rule.

In 2004, the question of whether NPDES permits were necessary for water transfers went before the U.S. Supreme Court in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. The court did not rule directly on the issue, which left unresolved the uncertainty many felt about the need for an NPDES permit. EPA issued an interpretive statement in 2005, explaining that Congress intended water resource-management agencies and other state authorities to oversee water transfers, not the NPDES permitting program. This rulemaking codifies that position.

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