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Ground Water Perspective

hydro at workHere at the well site, where we are collecting valid data to serve you better, we have time to think. Then we write it down for your benefit. Check here on occasion to see what we here at Ground Water Science have to say about various things; wells, ground water, the world... from that underground point of view. We also invite you to take a look at our Ground Water Science page on Facebook where we post news, links, and comments of interest, and attempt to engage in dialog.

In summer 2011, I was stunned by a phone call from one of the guys at Ohio EPA who organized operator training for operators in the Northwest District, Ohio Section AWWA. I had given a talk on my experience in Tanzania searching out and evaluating technical capabilities for water development there. If a group (for example, the Diocese of Youngstown) is raising money to support water development in an area, they like to know that the money was well spent, with wells and distribution equipment properly constructed and working. I help with such evaluation informally for several groups (Water for People is not involved there). The audience (often bored during talks) largely listened intently, asked a lot of questions, and talked to me about it afterward. I have seldom seen them so engaged. “Great,” I thought, “Raising awareness.” Anyway, Richard told me that Ohio EPA’s contact hours evaluation committee had declined to give credit for the 45 min talk.

testing a home wellUnless ignorance suits you best, water testing (along with its complement: regional ground water monitoring) has many benefits when considering how to protect or improve your area, property, or water supply. With proper sampling and analysis, as well as interpretation, the relative "health" and environmental quality of water is revealed by testing. Some things "just are" as a result of source rock or atmospheric conditions. A good but often tragic example is arsenic in ground water. Some aquifer formations contain arsenic. Others contain uranium. Some have high carbonate or iron contents, some low. Other constituents (or changes in constituents) reveal contamination in progress or soon to arrive.

Here, ground water monitoring is defined as data collection focused more on an area than a specific water well.

Some reasons for water testing and ground water monitoring:

While the ground water industry cannot seem to win the discourse over terms, it can set some standards:

After decades of ANSI/AWWA Standard A 100 ruling the roost, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is in the process of publishing a standard for water well construction and development, ANSI/NGWA Standard 01-14. Watch the NGWA web site (see our links) for news of a date.

Update:  ANSI/NGWA 01-14 was published in 2014. It is available from the NGWA.

A 100 is bass boat - NGWA 01-07 is a cabin cruiser. The standard is based on the 1998 version of the NGWA's Manual of Water Well Construction Standards that I had the privilege to edit. The 1998 edition was an update of the 1975 Manual, which was set up to be a well construction standard, but never was formalized as such for some reason. Both the 1970s and the current efforts involve multiple topical committees of seasoned veterans from all over the USA. I had the privilege of working on the well development and well disinfection sections.

NGWA 01-14 was developed in two stages, first developing Version 3 of the Manual of Water Well Construction Practices (not publicly published yet), then boiling this down into the tighter "sound bites" of a standard ("do this, do that"). The result is a specific yet flexible standard that covers the considerable range of practice.

We urge you to use it and make sure your regulatory bodies have and use it. The work will improve the state of the art.

With a memo dated March 26, 2009, William M. Alley, Chief, U.S. Geological Survey Office of "Groundwater" declared a change in the USGS 35-year-old policy that ground water is two words (water with an adjective). We were alerted to this by an item posted on the LinkedIn Hydrogeology Group forum that linked to an item on Michael (Aquadoc) Campana's WaterWired blog. He also weighed in on the one-word or two debate back in 2008, with some good advice (don't sweat it, be consistent) and background.

This topic does seem to be something to just let go, not to waste words or passion about, but yet, it sticks in my craw as we say.  I have long preferred two words and we use Ground Water Science as our brand.

Dr. Alley states: "Language evolves, and it is clear that the one-word spelling of groundwater has become the preferred usage both nationally [ed: never mind decades of NGWA use of two words] and internationally. The one-word spelling has been used by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary since 1998. Most water-resources publications also use the one-word spelling, as do many technical groups, such as the National Research Council. With the emphasis on interdisciplinary science, many USGS scientists who are not specialists in the field commonly use the one-word form, as increasingly do many hydrologists within the Water Resources Discipline.

"The term surface water has not seen the same language simplification that has occurred with the term “groundwater.” “Surface water” continues in the English language universally spelled as two words. Use of the two terms together spelled as “groundwater and surface water” has become common usage."

Let's break this logic down...

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Tip of the Day

You can you tell that a well is “clean” when: 1. Sediment removed by the cleaning process declines to zero (this may take a number of passes).  2. Bacteria counts after cleaning are lower.  3. The specific capacity (yield per unit drawdown) usually increases.