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Report from Groundwater Week

The industry, and many Canadians, gathered in Vegas for learning and networking

January 18, 2019  By Colleen Cross

Wednesday saw a lot of traffic on the trade show floor as contractors comparison-shopped the latest products, equipment and services. PHOTOS BY DAVID JUDD

Groundwater Week welcomed more than 5,000 attendees and 286 exhibitors to Las Vegas for a unique opportunity to learn about their own and other facets of the industry, scope out new products and compare notes with their peers.

Learning sessions included an update from National Ground Water Association’s Lauren Schapker on where policy stands with regard to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) found in firefighting foam and other products, and how interested parties can get involved in spreading awareness of the threat they pose to the environment. Takeaways from the productive meeting included a plan by the NGWA to provide white papers to various sectors of the industry – drillers, manufacturers, scientists, etc. – detailing how they may be affected by the presence of these substances in the soil and ground water.

Bill Brown of SkyTEM Canada, headquartered in Ayr, Ont., shared details of the company’s airborne electromagnetic surveys, which can deliver high-quality subsurface data and may be applied to map ground water around the world. The geophysical information collected complements existing borehole information, Brown explained in his presentation.


A business-focused session entitled “What is Your Business Outlook for the Next Five Years: Thrive or Dive” turned into a deep dive into hiring challenges and practices, including what works and what doesn’t for water well drilling business owners and managers. Moderator Kathryn Butcher, CMP, of the NGWA, started out by asking attendees where they see their business in five years. While most said they see their businesses growing, many expressed challenges with finding and keeping competent and motivated employees. Strategies such as posting on social media (including changing the language of the job ads frequently), getting referrals from current workers, and posting large physical signs. The consensus was that there is no magic bullet: a combination of methods yielded the best results.

There was a definite Canadian presence at the convention, among attendees, exhibitors, the NGWA board and award recipients. We counted nearly 300 Canadian attendees in the NGWA’s Groundwater Week 2018 app (a very useful networking tool).

Beth Parker of the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering received the M. King Hubbert Award, which is presented to a person who has made a major science or engineering contribution to the industry through research, technical papers, teaching and practical applications.

Bernard Kueper of Queens University in Kingston, Ont., was designated an NGWA Fellow in recognition by his peers and the NGWA of outstanding credentials, professional accomplishments, and a commitment to promoting the increased understanding of ground water science and water well system technology.

Newly elected NGWA president Scott King, a Canadian hydrogeologist and the association’s first president to come from the Scientists and Engineers Section, was sworn in during the delegates meeting. King stopped by a meeting of Canadians set to discuss next steps for the new Canadian National Ground Water Association (for more information on that meeting, see the industry news section of this magazine).

The trade show floor saw much tire-kicking and in-depth discussions between manufacturers and distributors and contractors looking to add to their fleets, upgrade their equipment or try new products on the market.

Grundfos’ booth provided some excitement in the form of a friendly but serious competition to see which water well contractors could assemble the company’s pumps the fastest without error. The pump manufacturer held the finals of its WaterPRO Championships as scores of interested attendees crammed the booth. Jason Johnson of Lindsborg, Kansas, earned the title of Grundfos 2018 WaterPRO Champion.

Check out our Facebook gallery, “Groundwater Week 2018,” for photo highlights. Don’t forget to like us while you’re there!

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