From the Ground Up

Each year, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) brings together professionals from all sectors of the groundwater industry to explore and discuss the latest issues affecting groundwater today and tomorrow. Water Quality Products asked Kevin McCray, CAE/executive director of the NGWA, to provide readers a sneak peek of the 2006 Ground Water Expo—Better Together, Dec. 5 to 8, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

WQP: Can you explain the meaning of the theme of this year’s Ground Water Expo, Better Together?

Kevin McCray
: Better Together reflects the philosophy of the NGWA, that we, as an organization, are more effective when members are working together toward common goals. This is not so easy as it might seem in an organization like ours, with 14,000 international members spread across four divisions (water well system contractors, groundwater scientists and engineers, manufacturers and suppliers).

NGWA’s ultimate goal is expressed in our mission statement, which states that NGWA is “dedicated to advancing the expertise of all ground water professionals and furthering ground water awareness and protection through education and outreach.” That’s Better Together at a macro level. With our now 12 foreign association partners, we are literally learning to be better from everywhere.

At a micro level, Better Together was expressed well by one of our members recently as he commented on the personal value of the Expo to him. He said, “I have learned in order to effectively use and protect groundwater resources, particularly in a water-poor, semi-arid state, cooperation and understanding among all stakeholders is critical.”

WQP: How many attendees are expected at the Ground Water Expo?

: We hope to have about 6,000 total registrants, which would be on par with the number that attended the last Expo in Las Vegas two years ago.

WQP: What important issues will be discussed at the event?

: Issues that will be discussed in Expo workshops and sessions include the latest in water quality and treatment, water systems, business management, microbial groundwater quality, regulations, wellhead protection, well construction, groundwater availability and Internet groundwater data, to name a few.

WQP: Will attendees encounter anything new or different at this year’s Ground Water Expo?

: This year, more than ever, we will emphasize business management. For example, workshops will cover the use of employee assessments and financial measures of productivity as well as a new drilling cost calculator, which will help our contractors better price their work. Also, we will have a first-ever panel on the business of groundwater looking toward the future.

WQP: Has NGWA organized any field trips in association with the event?

: We have three very interesting field trips. One will travel to the University of Las Vegas Biotechnology Center, which educates students interested in biotechnology careers, an increasingly important part of the groundwater world. The center has a real focus on forensic science including identifying, preventing and eliminating microbial contamination as it applies to water.

A second field trip is titled “Ground Water Development in the Las Vegas Valley: An Historical Tour.” It is a pretty dramatic look at the role of groundwater in the development of the Las Vegas area, and how water resources have been managed in the face of exponential growth. Groundwater is on the front pages of the area’s newspapers nearly every day.

On the lighter side, a third field trip will go behind the scenes to learn “What Makes the Water Dance” at the world-famous fountains at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

WQP: What part of the event are you most excited about?

: That’s a hard question for me to answer. I’m excited about everything—from the trade show floor to the sessions and workshops, to the many networking opportunities for people in our industry. Because it’s new, I’ll pick our first-ever general session the last day of the Expo, called “The Business of Ground Water: Looking Beyond 2007.”

We have some outstanding panelists, who will give their takes on the future of the groundwater industry, then field questions from the audience. It should be insightful and helpful for our audience, most of whom are business owners.

I’m always amazed at the quality and breadth of topics we assemble for educational sessions at the Expo each year. If someone is serious about their profession in the groundwater industry, they must be at the Ground Water Expo.

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