A service of Ground Water Science for wellfield users everywhere. "Total Wellfield Management" is a service mark (2001-2015) of Ground Water Science, all rights reserved.
Why "Total Wellfield Management"?
Now more than ever in the 21st Century, the water wellfield "frontier" is closed (or closing fast).
- Land for new water wellfields is difficult to come by in the more populated parts of the more highly developed world.
- In places in Europe and Asia - and increasingly in the Western Hemisphere - with long human occupation, new, safe locations don't exist.
- Everywhere in the more-developed world, land can be very expensive, as is engineering, connecting power and conveyance.
- Neighbors make trouble (especially if you happen to live some place in Palestine).
- Wetlands must be preserved.
- Big, scary oil and gas development is everywhere in parts of the USA, Canada and elsewhere.
- It makes sense - economically, environmentally, reducing stress in your life - to protect and preserve the well sites you have.
It just is not possible anymore to use up a water wellfield location like a played out hydrocarbon reservoir and move on. You need planning to keep existing wellfields producing at optimum levels indefinitely - a state known as sustainability. TWM is a process of achieving long-term sustainability.
What is Wellfield Sustainability?
"Sustainability" as a term has many uses and meanings. "Sustainable development" is considered that which is economically and ecologically beneficial to people in the long term and which does not require massive outside inputs. Some people add a spiritual element. Judeo-Christian concepts of "stewardship of creation" or the role of a steward in Jesus' parables are in line with sustainability. Similar concepts exist in other faiths and spiritual traditions.
It also relates to ideas of community well-being. People want services of high quality that work reliably, and at low cost and with little thought. And also to business concepts such as "corporate sustainability" as defined by Dow-Jones Indexes: “Corporate Sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value creation by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market's potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks."
The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration of Agriculture Canada initiated the Sustainable Water Well Initiative (see a summary report here) and began the process of popularization of the well sustainability idea. Their objective is the "properly maintained well:" "A properly maintained well will provide a reliable quantity and quality of groundwater. Regular monitoring, ongoing maintenance and appropriate well treatments will maintain the viability of a groundwater supply by preventing losses in well yield and reducing the contamination risk."
Our concept of a sustainable wellfield is one that (in hydrologic harmony with the surrounding environment, including in balance with recharge) provides a regular volume of potable (and if possible high quality) water of value to the users indefinitely (decades, centuries), through wells that maintain integrity and perform in a predictable way on a predictable budget for decades.
What is "Total Wellfield Management"?
TWM is a systematic application of the knowledge and practices needed to achieve sustainability. Often, wellfield managers, their consultants and contractors, and their regulatory protectors, look at a piece of the "whole elephant" known as a wellfield: Just fix the pump, just rehab the well, just replace the well, just delineate a wellhead protection zone, just evaluate its pumped water quality, just see that it meets regulatory and code criteria, just keep costs down (until we're retired or off the water board). TWM is feeling out the whole elephant: Keeping costs down and good water coming by looking at the whole thing and what is needed to be sustainable.
What is the process?
Step 1. "Stop the bleeding" - Handle any current emergencies such as contaminant plumes or wells with failing performance or serious deterioration (corroded, sand pumping, etc.)
Step 2. Evaluate available information and needs. We look at all your ground water source information, your regulatory needs, equipment symptoms, and water quality issues. Then we develop a comprehensive "game plan" to follow to sustainability over the time it takes to achieve it:
- What are your protection and environmental issues? Need to define or redefine a protection zone? Development pressures? Upcoming regulatory pressures? Giant shale well or injection well permit in progress nearby? Set out needs, costs and recommended schedules.
- What are your performance and equipment issues? Well performance history, current condition, patterns in treatment, rehabilitation, or service, piping or hydraulic bottlenecks, human factors, water quality.
- What are your water quality issues? What can be done about produced water to make it better? How does it affect your treatment plant and distribution?
- What are the short- and long-term cost-benefits and economic impacts?
- We work with your own operational people, engineers and other key service providers to do this.
The report supplied includes cost-benefit and other necessary justifications for proposed actions and schedules. It supplies background information. Our professionals come to your decision makers and explain everything.
Step 3. Implement. Depending on your staff and circumstances, we can leave the report with you to implement, act as advisors and supervisors through the process, virtually manage your wellfield for you, subject to you budget restraints and strategic decisions, or supply all the resources (except money - which can be found) to achieve sustainability. Ground Water Science can do the planning, provide the hydrogeology and modeling, the mapping, the well testing (performance and quality), records management, and direct the TWM process. We talk with and work with your staff and management to develop "best management practices." We ask our engineering colleagues to perform engineering, and bring in the best well contractors. If you have preferred professional advisors (hydrogeologists and engineers) or contractors, we work with them.
Step 4. Train and educate. We can train and educate your staff and service providers to work on their own with modern, cost-effective methods.
Step 5. Iteratively evaluate. At each critical point, evaluate what has been done, update or make changes.
Why a wellfield maintenance specialty firm and not your civil engineering firm or well contractor?
Civils have excellent tools in their fields of expertise and are important to developing a sustainable, optimal water system. However, few civils have the interest or experience necessary to do this - actually we can't think of any with any sustained interest in it, just staffs trying to deal with one problem at a time. They also would rather stick to their core competencies and project business plans. Likewise, well contractors (even those with hydros on staff) focus on work on a project-by-project basis and don't typically have the other strategic tools. We ARE so equipped, experienced, and motivated.
We can also be the outside "change agent" if you're looking to shake up your stable of service providers if they have become complacent and set in their ways.
If you are a civil/environmental firm and wish to add this service, we're your staff.
Need a government agency or don't like consultants, or don't like us? Engage the PFRA SWWI.
Questions? Contact Stuart Smith.
Where and How Much? And Who?
Where? We can work anywhere in North America and much of the world - except where the U.S. government frowns on us traveling and nowhere realistically risky (wives and kids, we have). Much work can be done by remote control. We are pretty much English-only, but we have colleagues fluent in major languages who we can add to our team.
How much? You know the answer: "It depends on...."
- Level of effort: What of the steps are we doing? Step 2 (the Plan) can be done for $3,000 or less for relatively simple systems if travel isn't expensive. We'll supply a justified budget.
- Your circumstances. We'll do a certain amount of "pro bono" jobs for expenses outside the U.S. Just ask! We'll also work with you financially pinched systems here in North America. We want you to be successful and we figure just compensation of some kind will follow. Just ask!
Who us? Small village? Agriculture operation? Government facility? Whatever the purpose, if you operate a wellfield, then you will be happiest with sustainability vs. mining or cycling through crises. Our studies of government-irrigation district sustainability issues makes this realistic for any operation. Even you pump-and-treat systems.
Interested? Tell us about your needs and let us send you a proposal to negotiate from. Need to work through an agency or NGO? We can arrange that. Please contact us for more information.