Let’s talk about well development. After all, isn’t a producing well the goal of every water drilling contract?

For this month’s cover feature, we interview this year’s McEllhiney Lecturer, Michael Schnieders, PG, PH-GW. I was struck by Schnieders’ thoughts on water well development and want to explore them, but first let me tell readers who he is (for those who don’t already know).

Schnieders, along with his father, John H. Schnieders, Ph.D., CPC, runs Water Systems Inc., in Ottawa, Kan. The company offers groundwater consulting through a team of microbiologists, chemists, geologists and engineers. The Schnieders recently co-wrote a book, “Operational Stage of the Well,” along with Thomas Hanna, PG, of Johnson Screens. All three are respected members of the groundwater community.

Readers at this month’s South Atlantic Jubilee can attend Michael Schnieders’ McEllhiney Lecture to learn more about the useful life spans of wells, or pick up a copy of the book.

Now, back to development. We asked Schnieders about it and he told us that development often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

“A big issue with well development is when it occurs,” Schnieders says. “It’s the tail end of the construction process. Typically, budget and nerves are spent, and even oversight of the jobsite is starting to slack off. People are ready to move on to the next project, whether it’s the driller, the consultant or the municipality. So development gets short changed.”

It’s late in the day, late in the project. People are tired. Crews want to kick off with a beer after a hard day or are eager to demob to get set up on the next jobsite. The driller wants to get home from work at a decent time for once. Be honest with yourself: Do you do your best work under those circumstances?

Now, don’t go getting all defensive on me. I’m not pointing fingers or trying to call out anyone for shoddy work. What I am trying to do is call attention to the situation. Schnieders emphasizes how important it is.

“If that’s not properly done,” he says, “you’re not creating a resource out of that well; you’re creating a problem child.”

It’s not uncommon for folks to work differently when they’re 30 percent done with a job versus when they’re 90 percent done. Knowing that, companies can put plans in place to help crews work their best, producing the best product for the customer, no matter what stage of the job they’re at. The solution could be as simple as mentioning it during the morning tailgate. “Hey, we’re finishing this up today. Stay sharp and let’s deliver another high quality well we can be proud of.” Contractors can also write formal policies to clarify expectations and procedures for finishing a job. The important thing is to understand situations can happen where spent nerves and budgets make it tempting to rush through development, and then make a plan to deal with those situations.

No contractor wants to bring a “problem child” into this world, let alone support it. Who would? We can’t move development to the start of the job, where it would get the attention it deserves. Having a plan to ensure excellence, even at the “tail end” of the process, is the next best thing.

What do you think? What do you do to ensure development isn’t short changed? Let us know. Send an email to verduscoj@bnpmedia.com.

Stay safe out there, drillers.