Breaking New Ground

Elizabeth Lisican: Describe some can’t-miss events taking place at the NGWA’s upcoming annual meeting.
Art Becker:
More than 300 exhibitors are expected to display the latest industry equipment and materials. This year will have many educational offerings with a number of “outdoor action” presentations where real-time field activities demonstrating new equipment, products and industry techniques will take place. The NGWA Geothermal Drilling Mud and Grouting School is a one-day outdoor action event that provides hands-on mud and grouting applications and education. This embodies groundwater protection though proper grouting of geothermal closed-loop wells.

More than 70 other educational offerings will be provided, including: “Consider Getting Into Geothermal Drilling. It’s More Than a Hole in the Ground;” “Designing More Effective Well Systems;” “Fleet Safety: Preventing Common Water Well Driller Fleet Accidents;” and “How the New Tax Laws Will Affect You.”

Lisican: What are some current “hot topics” within the world of groundwater?
Everyone wants to participate in lowering our country’s dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuel and have a cleaner environment by utilizing green energy sources. Ground source heat pump (GSHP) geothermal technology is a true green energy source. GSHP technology has been employed for more than 40 years but has recently gained wider acceptance as technological advances in system efficiencies have driven the cost of these systems down to a point where they are now very viable heating and cooling alternatives for both residential and commercial applications. Although the initial cost of the system is greater than traditional HVAC systems, the energy savings in operation of the system is very significant and substantial.

The greatly diminished operating energy requirements mean less energy consumption in the long run and significant energy cost savings to the consumer—a win-win situation. The heart of these systems is the ground loop heat exchanger, which is typically a drilled vertical closed loop field. The members of the NGWA are experts in drilling and loop well installation and the NGWA is a technology and educational knowledge base for the drilled vertical closed loop heat exchanger system.

Sonic drilling is the latest technology introduced to the drilling community. Sonic continues to be refined and is now a viable approach for many drilling projects. Advantages in drilling production and limited drill cutting/soil generation is driving clients and drillers alike to investigate and use this drilling method. A significant number of rig manufacturers now offer sonic drilling equipment.

Lisican: What else is the NGWA doing to promote sustainability?
Protection of groundwater resources will also need to be elevated from current standards to decrease the loss of groundwater resources through contamination. The NGWA is very active in the groundwater sustainability movement and provides educational and government affairs action to assist in improving our ability to sustain this precious resource.

Lisican: What are your thoughts on the current situation regarding emerging contaminants threatening groundwater supplies?
The scientist and engineer members of the NGWA are recognized global experts in groundwater contamination investigation and remediation. The environmental industry is now some 40-plus years old and the number of investigative and remedial methods and technologies that have been developed are amazing. There is a commitment by this group for continued education, research and development of new technologies for groundwater remediation. This year’s expo will feature an educational offering for scientists: “Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Organic Chemicals in Groundwater: Prevention, Detection and Remediation Forum.” This program speaks directly to the continued efforts for groundwater sustainability and protection.

Lisican: Describe some major goals NGWA is working toward, both short and long term.
Short-term goals include to continue to expand our educational commitment to all groundwater stakeholders, and to work closely with the U.S. and global governments to develop science-based nonpolitical programs that provide for both current and future groundwater needs and attain the balance necessary to accomplish this. Long-term goals include being a driving force in global groundwater resource management, protection and sustainability. This will be accomplished through education, cooperation and increased collaboration with other groups and stakeholders that share the vision of a world in which groundwater is critical to humankind.

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About the author

Art Becker is president-elect of NGWA. Becker can be reached at [email protected] or at 609.294.1110.
Elizabeth Lisican is associate editor of WQP. Lisican can be reached at [email protected] or at 847.391.1012.