Ground Water Canada

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Drilling field trip for students helps bridge gap


April 8, 2019
By Ground Water Canada

Springfield, Ont. – Students in the environmental science program at the University of Windsor were taken on a field trip to remember led by Johnny Wilson of J.B. Wilson and Son Well Drilling in Springfield, Ont.

Professor Joel Gagnon, department head of the earth sciences department, brought the senior students to Wilson’s shop to tour the business, visit a site to see firsthand properly drilled wells and improperly drilled wells, and learn about well remediation at an area farm.

Johnny Wilson, who has a dual background in drilling and hydrogeology, started the day on a light not. “We thought we’d show you how wells are drilled before you try to tell us how to drill wells,” he told the students, who potentially will work as consultants for government or private industry.

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The group toured the shop, which contains a 14-foot test well, learned about the challenges of water-well drilling and learned the ideal conditions for air and mud rotary versus cable-tool drilling. As veteran driller John Wilson looked on, the crew witnessed startup of Wilsons’ air-rotary rig. Matt Wilson explained, among other things, differences in drill bits.

They also learned about setting screens and discussed soil makeup in the area centred in Elgin County, which is largely glacial till and limestone. They also received samples of well records.

The students visited a well site to observe a well that had issues with high iron content and straightness likely related to improper grouting, Johnny Wilson said. Wilson explained that a cable tool can be good for centring a well and that gravel pack and proper grouting helps keep it straight. They also observed newer wells that were done properly.

The tour ended in Iona at Fleetwood Farms. Farmers Bob, Nancy and David McKillop talked with students and joined the crowd of onlookers as the well was worked on through mechanical means, including using the bailer to get a sample. Next step will be chemical means, students were told.

The lively – and unusually warm – March day ended with a different kind of demonstration: Johnny Wilson played his Celtic drum, Bodhran, sang a favourite Atlantic tune.

It was the first time most of those students had looked up close at a water well. Student Alex said he gained a new perspective on his chosen field of environmental science. “I’m really enjoying the day. It’s great seeing all the different aspects of drilling.”