There are plenty of things to gripe about these days ... So it was refreshing, indeed, to soak in all the positive vibes emanating from the National Ground Water Association’s 2008 Ground Water Expo and Annual Meeting, which took place Dec. 2-5, 2008.

There are plenty of things to gripe about these days – all of our economic difficulties, convoluted war efforts, the arctic-like weather (anybody heard from Al Gore lately?) and the scourge of reality-TV programming chief among them. So it was refreshing, indeed, to soak in all the positive vibes emanating from the National Ground Water Association’s (NGWA) 2008 Ground Water Expo and Annual Meeting, which took place Dec. 2-5, 2008, in Las Vegas.

That the hearty and resourceful folks in the drilling contracting and water resources industries can keep a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity comes as no surprise – and they did it in big numbers, too. The show recorded near-record attendance among contractors (2,693) and suppliers (767); total visitors to the show numbered 5,425. NGWA executive director Kevin McCray beams, “Industry professionals come because the Expo and annual meeting are of great value to them. Despite difficult economic times for wide sectors of the ground water industry and its related professions, these numbers reflect the fundamental strength, commitment and optimism of these hard-working people.”

Knowledge Is Power

As per usual, the event delivered a vast display of industry-related wares, and nearly a quarter of the 311 exhibitors featured new products or services. The trade show floor was open a total of 12  hours, giving visitors ample time to take in all of the latest offerings.

The educational programs presented were both wide-ranging and industry-condition appropriate. There was an emphasis on business management issues such as cost-control and profitability, customer service, marketing and personnel concerns. Technology-specific topics addressed included drilling operations and well construction, water systems, geothermal operations, safety regulations and compliance, ground water availability and sustainability, and water quality and treatment – pretty much something for everyone interested in improving his operation. New this time were the “best suggested practices” work sessions, wherein contractors got together to exchange ideas and submit the best ones to the NGWA board of directors for formal implementation.

Also, outdoor demonstrations were conducted, focusing on push technology, water sampling, geophysics and grouting.

Thank You Sponsors

A great deal of time, effort and expense goes into a successful trade show, and here we say thanks to the kind and generous sponsors of the Expo:
  • AMS

  • Atlas Copco

  • Baroid

  • Boart Longyear

  • Franklin Electric

  • Jet-Lube

  • Rea & Associates

  • Sandvik

  • Sequent

  • Shared Funding

  • Smith Barney

  • Tibban

  • WellGuard

And the Winner Is …

Annual convention time means it’s time to shine up the trophies and recognize some of the many deserving people in the industry. Honored this time around:

Bob Holder (Holder Well & Pump Service Co., Social Circle, Ga.) was presented with the Ross L. Oliver Award for his outstanding contributions to the industry.

Charles Harvey of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took home the M. King Hubbert Award for his contributions to ground water science.

Michael Krautkramer of Robinson, Noble & Saltbush Inc., Federal Way, Wash., received the Robert Storm Award for fostering collaboration among ground water professionals.

Life Member Awards went to Michael McDonald (McDonald Morrissey Assoc-iates Inc. Reston, Va.) and Stavros Pap-adopulos (S.S. Papadopulos & Associates Inc., Bethesda, Md.).

Beth Ann Simno of Mount Carmel Academy in New Orleans was the recipient of the Honorary Member Award for her efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

The Technology Award went to Carl Keller, the main man at Flexible Liner Underground Technologies in Santa Fe, N.M.

Keith Barge (Universal Drilling Services LLC, Houston) received the Individual Safety Advocate Award.

The Equipment Design Award went to Paul Polak of International Development Enterprises, Lakewood, Colo.

Loyd Watson (Watson Co., Las-cassas, Tenn.) was the recipient of the Standard Bearer Award for his legislative efforts; the oft-honored Watson now must build yet another addition to his trophy room.

Even if you personally didn’t receive an award, it was a great show, and everyone who took part should be proud. Looking ahead, be ready to “laissez les bon temps rouler” Dec. 10-13, when the NGWA celebrates 61 years in New Orleans. 

Well Logs Rise in Stature

What used to be the somewhat routine, rudimentary well log report filed by water well contractors has become and increasingly important tool to ground water scientists, engineers and contractors, stresses 2009 William A. McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer W. Richard Laton.

Water scarcity and the computer age are helping drive needed change so that well logs are more content-rich, uniform in their reporting methodology and accessible, said Laton in his inaugural lecture at the recent National Ground Water Expo and Annual Meeting. His lecture is titled, “Boring Logs – What’s Important and What’s Not: A Scientific Viewpoint,” and is underwritten by Franklin Electric.

“In the past, well logs were something drillers had to turn in, and the logs weren’t necessarily full of information. But today, the information in well logs is being used by a lot more people than just the contractor to make better maps and planning decisions. Now, we often look at well logs as our only chance to get a window into the subsurface,” says Laton. “What has driven this change is water users who realize they can’t drill a well everywhere. There is now more emphasis on water resource management than in the past. Water managers are saying, ‘There’s a whole lot more information we should getting our hands on that is valuable.’ The contractors are the eyes and ears on the ground for us scientists and engineers. We are basically the paper chasers.”

 Laton believes that more uniform and complete reporting of well log data by contractors creates a win-win situation for all ground water professionals. For instance, more accurate and uniform classification of geological formations would go a long way toward providing the kind of well log information that would be enormously beneficial not just to ground water scientists and engineers, but to water well contractors, too. “One benefit to contractors is that they can better understand how to bid a job, what to expect, where to find a sweet spot, and water chemistry,” he says. “Contractors are like science people in the field. With better well log information, they can make wiser decisions.”

Carbon Capture and Storage Efforts Discussed

When it comes to predicting the fate of captured carbon dioxide stored underground, 2008 Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecturer Michael Celia and his colleagues have gone to great lengths to help decision-makers trying to mitigate the effects of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Celia wrapped up his year as the Darcy Distinguished Lecturer at the recent NGWA convention. His lecture is titled, “Geological Storage as a Carbon Mitigation Option.”

Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased the atmospheric concentration of CO2 by about 35 percent during the past 200 years. The current concentration, at about 385 parts per million, represents the highest CO2 concentration in the last 500,000 years. Projected future emissions will lead to a doubling of the pre-industrial CO2 concentration within the next 50 years. Manmade CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are a major contributor to global warming. Carbon capture and storage currently offers the best hope of allowing continued use of coal for power generation while addressing the problem carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, says Celia.

“The idea is that the CO2 will remain deep in the subsurface long enough that we can essentially solve the climate problem,” Celia says. But modeling what happens to CO2 once it is stored underground is so complex as to be impractical for regulators and others grappling with the issue. “Our interest is in trying to think through what it means to put very large amounts of CO2 underground. If you don’t put away large amounts, you don’t have much impact. Anyway you look at it, it’s a big problem,” he notes.

Both short- and long-term concerns are how the CO2 will displace other fluids that are underground, and how that displacement may contaminate ground water. For instance, large saline aquifers offer some of the largest capacity for CO2 storage, but displacement of brine water can be a problem. Also, deep mid-continent sedimentary basins offer one of the best environments for CO2 injection, but millions of old oil and gas wells can serve as conduits for leakage of the CO2. Furthermore, CO2, when injected deep underground, is less dense than water, and tends to rise upward, creating the potential for fluid displacement or leakage.

What Celia and his colleagues have done is taken a philosophical approach to modeling. “Let’s take a step back and figure out the most important things that are going on. If we can figure those out, we will throw away everything else, and that ultimately gives us mathematical models that are relatively simple. In my view, these are the kind of very practical tools regulators and others can use,” Celia says.