As a journalist, my baseline approach to just about anything involves cautious optimism. I could sum it all up with: Sounds like a great idea, but I’d like to see how it plays out. Heading into 2022, however, I have a little more optimism than caution when it comes to this industry. Let me explain.

Much of The Driller just attended the National Ground Water Association’s Groundwater Week 2021 event, held in Nashville, Tennessee, Dec. 14-16. The annual event returned to in-person after going virtual in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That fact, alone, gave it an air of optimism, of a return to normalcy. Of course, the pandemic still isn’t done with us, but knowing people can and do take steps to protect themselves and loved ones blunts its edge a bit. I’d say the event, which brings together thousands of people in the industry, didn’t quite feel “normal” (whatever that means), but it did feel about as normal as it gets these days. People got to make people connections, and that makes events like Groundwater Week special — and a cause for optimism.

One big topic of discussion at this year’s event: the recently passed infrastructure bill. Experts expect the new law to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the sagging infrastructure in the United States. Some folks wonder how we can afford it, but with the American Society of Civil Engineers ranking overall U.S. infrastructure at a C-, not making those investments isn’t a realistic option.

These investments can filter down to the drilling industry in any number of ways. Think about water projects, dam rehabilitation, high-speed internet, environmental remediation, roads and bridges. Drillers can contract or sub in any of these areas. Even one-tenth of one percent of hundreds of billions of dollars could fuel plenty of hiring, equipment upgrades and business growth for companies willing to compete for those bids.

Finally, the start of a new year always calls for a note of optimism because we can all see the potential ahead. Where did you fall short in business or personal goals in 2021? I invite you to reflect on that if you haven’t already. Maybe you didn’t get around to that review of your costs. Maybe revenue was a little soft. Did you get in any training (and not just maintain-the-license training, but something to expand services or revenue)? Did you get all the time with family you wanted to get? Think about how you interact with your job or business. Think about how you interact with clients, customers or regulators. If any of these things need a fresh look, time to make a plan and hold yourself accountable for it.

You may have your own calls for optimism as 2022 begins. But these things give me less reason to say, cynically, “I’ll wait and see” how 2022 comes out.

What do you think? What are your reasons for optimism as we start a new year? Let us know. Send an email to

Stay safe out there, drillers.

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