The National Ground Water Association’s 2010 Ground Water Expo, held in Las Vegas, was, by all accounts, a success. 

Beginning Dec. 13, 2009, when the National Ground Water Association’s (NGWA) Ground Water Expo closed in New Orleans, there was no small amount of anxiety – trepidation, even – concerning the 2010 edition of the ground water industry’s biggest annual event. About the only positive thing people would commit to was, “It’s going to be in Vegas, so that’s gotta help – some, maybe.”

Cut to post-show 2010: That blur you might have seen was NGWA executive director Kevin McCray doing cartwheels down the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center – and for good reason. Just some of the impressive numbers:

  • Overall attendance – 5,016, the fifth-most ever

  • Contractor attendees – 2.345, fifth-most ever

  • 321 exhibiting companies and organizations – most ever

  • Number of countries represented – 36

An Upbeat Occasion

From the Attendee Welcome Party on Dec. 7, and straight through to the off-site educational offerings that marked the show’s closing stages on Dec. 10, the communal atmosphere was both vivacious and constructive. The sweeping feel-good vibe was contagious, spreading feverishly throughout the exhibit hall, the seminar rooms and the social-function sites.

Unlike too many trade shows during the past couple years, the carpeting in the aisles was not the primary, dominating visual in the exhibit hall. Vendors, instead of tiring of small-talk among themselves, were kept busy trying to accommodate the throngs of industry professionals trying to gather all the purposeful information they were after. A pair of six-hour exhibit hall sessions allowed visitors to check out all the newest equipment, products and services currently available from leading industry suppliers.

Class Is in Session

The wide-ranging and timely educational programming provided was most impressive. More than 80 hours of continuing education was offered, with training tracts addressing such important topics as drilling operations and well construction, water systems, well specifications, geothermal operations, safety issues, business management, ground water issues, water quality and treatment, well maintenance and rehabilitation, and industry best practices – to name but a few.

Tim Scheibe gave his closing Darcy Lecture, “Beyond the Black Box: Integrating Advanced Characterization of Microbial Processes with Subsurface Reactive Transport Models;” while Tom Christopherson presented the inaugural 2011 McEllhiney Lecture, “The Nebraska Grout Task Force Research: Unexpected Results – New Solutions.”

Off-site outdoor demonstrations tackled drilling methods, well construction, sampling and monitoring, remediation techniques and geophysics.

Meeting and Greeting

There was plenty of socializing events to mingle and share ideas, including a new member and first-time attendee welcome session, the aforementioned Attendee Welcome Party, a golf tournament, a “Water in Architecture” field trip, a photo safari to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a Titanic artifacts exhibit tour, a ground water industry business leaders luncheon, a general membership breakfast and the annual President’s Dinner and fundraising auction to name a few.

Thanks to the Helping Hands

And kudos are to be thrown at the Expo’s sponsors:

  • Baroid Industrial Drilling Products

  • Franklin Electric

  • ITT/Goulds Pumps

  • Jet-Lube Inc.

  • Mud Puppy International

  • Sandvik Mining and Construction

  • WellGuard Insurance

Later This Year

Looking ahead, the 2011 NGWA Ground Water Expo takes place Nov. 29-Dec. 2, again in Las Vegas, and we look forward to the big show building on the momentum it garnered in 2010. 

Business Profitability Stressed

Many businesses – including ones in the ground water industry – cannot answer basic questions about profitability, which puts them on the endangered list, a business expert told attendees at the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) Expo and Annual Meeting on its opening day.

 The good news is that understanding some financial basics can empower companies to effectively plan for profitability, says Steve LeFever of Profit Mastery University, a lecture program that will be available to NGWA members at a discounted rate.

A former commercial banker, LeFever says only about 15 percent of businesses seeking loans can answer simple questions about profitability because they don’t measure and plan using basics such as fixed and variable costs against sales. “What gets measured gets managed,” notes LeFever, so it’s not surprising that 80 percent of start-up businesses fail in the first seven years.

Borehole Grouting Commands Attention

A landmark study on grouting water wells and geothermal boreholes, and a school on geothermal drilling mud and grouting were spotlighted at the National Ground Water Association Expo and Annual Meeting.

The new William A. McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer, Tom Christopherson, kicked off his 2011 lecture, “The Nebraska Grout Task Force Research: Unexpected Results – New Solutions.” Christopherson is with the Water Well Standards and Contractors’ Licensing Program for Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

NGWA began its Geothermal Drilling Mud and Grouting School with an orientation and presentation on safety, which was followed by hands-on training at an outdoor demonstration site.

Both programs emphasized that grouting boreholes works in protecting ground water quality, provided the type of grouting fits the conditions and it is applied properly.

The Nebraska grout study began in 2000 with installation of a prototype well using clear PVC casing to allow use of a down-the-hole camera to visually inspect the grout seal. Upon reviewing data in 2000, the state expanded the study to multiple sites in varying geologic and hydrologic con-ditions to get a broader spectrum of data.

Christopherson said he was surprised at the number of cracks and voids that were discovered using a visual inspection. The study also dye-tested the test wells with fluorescent dye to get additional data on the effectiveness of the grout seals.

While there are many conclusions that can be derived from the study, he said one is that “just because grout is cracked doesn’t mean it’s bad.” Sometimes cracks in the grout or detachment of the grout from the casing would allow a flow path for water down the annular space only to be stopped by seal further down the well.

“Hydrologic conditions play a big part,” says Christopherson, as do the grout particle size, moisture content and other variables. He says much can be learned from the study that will help water well contractors properly apply the right grout based on the specific conditions.

The study was a joint project of DHHS, the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, the Nebraska Conservation and Survey Division, Baroid, Cetco, Wyo-Ben Drilling Products and Design Water Technologies.

During the geothermal drilling mud and grouting school, both new NGWA president Art Becker and NGWA director John Pitz emphasized the importance of precision in drilling geothermal boreholes for the installation of loop tubes and optimization of the system performance.

Pitz says geothermal drillers require some but not all of the skills and competencies needed by water well system contractors. He said NGWA examined both sets of skills and competencies to come up with requirements for its relatively new certification, “Certified Vertical Closed Loop Driller.”