"Recently, a drill crew had dry-augered a hole 28 inches into the topsoil (beach sand), and was driving a pit casing (pit tee) with a sledgehammer while a state regulator was observing ..."

Recently, a drill crew had dry-augered a hole 28 inches into the topsoil (beach sand), and was driving a pit casing (pit tee) with a sledgehammer while a state regulator was observing. The drill crew was preparing to drill, but had not started any drilling because I – the licensed driller for the job – had not yet arrived at the drill site. In a previous conversation, as the licensed driller, I had invited the state regulator to observe the drilling and grouting of a geothermal closed loop.

The regulator called my cellular phone to notify me that the crew wasn’t in compliance because they were drilling without a licensed driller present. I advised the regulator to be assured that no drilling would proceed until I arrived. When I did arrive at the site, the regulator was not there.

Upon the regulator’s return, I again informed him that no drilling had started until I, the licensed driller, had arrived. He still advised the drill operator that because he was driving a pipe in the ground, he considered it drilling, and as much as he didn’t want to, he would have to write up the drill operator for drilling without a drilling license.

After asking the drill operator for his driver’s license to get his pertinent information, the regulator told the operator that he would be reporting this incident to the state licensing board, which would be contacting both the drill operator and his employer.

Note: If this is enforced, anyone installing a fence post, a clothes’ line pole, a flagpole or any kind of hole in the ground may be required to have a state water well driller’s license.

It has been my experience that most state regulators have no idea what the procedure is for drilling a well, installing a well or geothermal loop, or even grouting a well. What’s even more important, they don’t seem to care, nor do they have any interest in learning. They interpret the regulations their own way, and just are interested in finding people whom they deem aren’t in compliance. There’s no real interest in protecting our natural resources.

This regulator wrote up the drill operator, watched the operator mix the drilling mud and run two drill joints in the ground, then advised me that he had other places to be and that he probably wouldn’t return to watch the grouting of the geothermal loop. What? Observing the grouting procedure should have been the most important part on which he should have focused. There ought to be a new job opening for a qualified regulator, but it probably will never happen if he can continue to fine people for what he considers a violation.

I’m not against regulators; we need qualified regulators to police our industry. However, all state regulators who are over-policing drillers and pump installers should be required to pass the most basic drilling and pump examinations issued by their respective states – or better yet, by the National Ground Water Association. Most regulators don’t have a concept of the drilling procedures, and couldn’t pass a professional drilling or pump installer’s examination.

Don’t misunderstand me: I know a few regulators who are quite qualified, but I can count them on one hand. There is one outstanding regulator whom I know personally who is master ground water-certified (MGWC). For those who aren’t aware, the MGWC designation is the highest certification a person can obtain to show his or her expertise in this industry. This certification is issued by the National Ground Water Association after the applicant passes many written examinations.

It is said, “The pen is mightier than the sword” – but in my opinion, only if the pen is very sharp, and the sword is very dull. I think there is a very dull sword involved here.

Keep reading my stories, as I’m sure I’ll be writing more on the outcome of this situation.