2.2 – Private Well Drillers – Panel Discussion

2.2 – Private Well Drillers – Panel Discussion


Awesome! Hello everybody! Glad I get to be after lunch where you guys are all nice and warm now and ready to go to sleep but we’ll go along. My name is Mark Layten, I’m with the Kickapoo Drilling Company. We’re right here in Central Illinois. I’m actually the winner for the shortest speaker that had to drive here. I only live about 40 miles away. We drill mostly here in Central Illinois sands, gravels, clays, glacial tills. Mostly, use motor rotary drilling processes, things like that. We’ve been around for over 60 years. I’m third generation. My grandfather started it, and my father currently runs it, and I’m basically taking over at this point in time as he’s getting ready to go ahead and retire. Been in the industry for over 20 years. I hold two state licenses. Two NGWA Certifications and one International Ground Source Heat Pump Accreditation. I’m also a active board member on the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals and a founding board member of the Geothermal Alliance of Illinois. Topics for today, they asked me to talk about something that was near and dear to my heart. And the thing that we always talk about in our industry especially is that 20 years ago we never had as many bad coliform tests as we do now. And we cannot figure out for the life of us what has changed because we still build wells and construct wells the same that we did back then. We haven’t changed that many procedures and methods. And in fact, we got ahead of the curve of a lot of stuff when it came to grouting in wells and things. We saw the handwriting on the wall. We were ahead of the grouting regulations. When it came time to do that, we had already had the grouting machines and been pressure grouting in our state for many years before it became an actual law because we saw that that was coming down the line. But through that the total coliform testing and treatment, like I said, we’re seeing a lot more issues and a lot more problems throughout the years that we did not used to have so that’s kinda why I wanna talk about this here today. These are my talk and my opinions. They are my own. This is my little disclaimer here that I’m not exactly what you call an expert. I am a water well driller by trade but these are the things that I do. This is what works for me and this is what I’ve seen work in the field. We’ve gone from doing one of these tests, maybe a month, where it was kind of a nuisance where we had to do this just to… Every now and then it was like, “Why do we gotta devote a guy and a truck to go do this.” To now, I have an office lady that does nothing but this. She schedules it with all the homeowners, with the realtors, and things like that, gets it go ahead where she figures out who’s gonna be there, who’s gonna open it up, who’s gonna pay the bills, who’s gonna do this. And then we even now have our lab, stop by our office about three times a week. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Most of these lab results have to be back in within 24 hours and we don’t like to do Thursdays and Fridays because Thursdays, if they don’t get to it by Friday then they wait ’til Monday. And now you’re back, you gotta go back and do another one. So we have them actually stop by and pick up samples three times a week from our office. We’ve seen homeowners, realtors, home inspectors and even sanitarians and health department people that have not had the proper training to go ahead and take these tests and we’ve seen those positive tests increase. I’ll talk about some of the things that they do wrong and some of the things that we do right as we go through this. Our first sample, say that you’re gonna go out there. You’ve now have been requested or someone, the customer or someone has called you up and said, “Yes, we’d like to go ahead and have a sample.” I like to go ahead and I like to place a softener on bypass if they’re using our current water softener. The reason for that is because most water softeners near the top of them have what they call a free board space or an air pocket within them. That likes to hold on to bacteria and you find that most softening resins and the mineral that’s inside them cannot be chlorinated and cannot be properly disinfected. So therefore if you’re trying to get an actual sample to say whether or not the well or the source is contaminated, running it through a softener is gonna give you a skewed result. This picture here where it says the sample type raw where it comes right in through the wall, you see it’s got a… I like to call it the smooth nosed sampling port. Our state requires that which I think is a very good thing to have. Right as we come through or penetrate the wall, wherever the pressure tank is we have to have a smooth nosed sample port. I asked not to have any threads on it. It needs to be 18 inches above ground. This is kind of a strange thing but that’s because they wanna be able to stick a bucket underneath it to catch any type of splashes in water but whoever came up with that code was thinking at that point in time. But it allows you to go ahead and get a sample right there and break the system down between the distribution and the actual source itself. The problem that we have in this state is they never actually require the sanitarians and the people that have to go and take the samples to take it from that particularly smooth nosed sample port. So most of them still go and take it from the kitchen sink because they’d like to see the most… The point of distribution or the point inside the house that you’re gonna be drinking from, the point of use. So I educate a lot of my local sanitarians, a lot of my local health department people to try to take to both, take one from the sampling port and one from the distribution and that way we can see more than likely where the contamination is coming from if there is. Flush each line. This is one thing that I can talk about. Inside, outside. Your outside spigots are just as important as your inside spigots. If you have a yard hydrant that’s way out there, consider that to be a dead end. Dead ends are notoriously bad for holding on to bacteria and hiding that bacteria in those lines. You gotta flush it to scour those lines. And as we go through and later on we’ll talk about chlorination, as we go to chlorinate, we’ve gotta get chlorine down into those individual spots and those lines. We don’t wanna miss a single one. So there’s no one spot that you wanna not flush through the system. I do not take from a threaded connection. I think this one’s from the state of Washington. If you read through all the step one, step two, everything is actually good but I hate the pictures. I cringe everytime I see that because it’s an outside spigot with a threaded connection and 9.999 out of 10 you’re gonna have a contamination problem with that particular type of spigot. The only time I’ll ever take one from a threaded type of spigot like that is if I have no other option to take it from anywhere else. That’s the only time I’ll ever do that. Back to we were talking about that first sample, I like to find a sink, a mop sink a lot of times. With a removable aerator, or better yet, where we talked about that smooth nosed sampling port. I like to remove the aerator with the alcohol wipes, disinfect the threads and the discharge of the faucet. I’ll also at that point in time use the alcohol wipes to clean my fingers. The chicken that I eat for lunch that day does not belong in that sample bottle. I have tried to use gloves. Rubber gloves, and things like that that you can buy, and I’ve had good samples and I’ve had bad samples, so I really don’t believe that you need more than just the alcohol wipes, because I’ve not seen a difference between wearing gloves and not wearing gloves. Running the water to high enough flow. You wanna run that for a couple of minutes at a high enough flow to get that faucet flush, but you don’t wanna run it high enough to splash water everywhere. You don’t wanna have water basically contaminating and splashed up everywhere within the point that you’re trying to sample. You wanna go ahead and slow that water down to a pencil size stream. The types of samples and things that you’re looking for, you don’t wanna have leaks coming out of your faucets. You don’t wanna have threads on your faucets. You don’t want to have aerators on your faucets. You want a good, nice stream coming out of that one down there the right with the little man just saying, “A okay.” The next steps are very important. These are things that we’ve learned from the field. Hold your breath. If you’re breathing on the sample, you’re contaminating the sample. It’s just that simple. I have seen health department people standing there chewing gum with their mouth open while they take a sample, and I’ve been looking at ’em like, “Do you even know what you’re doing?” But that does happen. Don’t breathe on or near the bottle. When you un cap the bottle, you wanna do it away from the stream of water and then bring the bottle to the stream. When you go ahead and you want to hold the cap, you wanna hold the cap not upwards, you wanna hold it downwards. You don’t wanna allow any splashes, splatters or anything in that cap. You do not wanna hold that cap like that. When you un screw it, keep it in the downward orientation. You want to place the bottle into the stream as neatly as possible and you wanna fill to that indicator line. And then you wanna pull the bottle out right away. You do not wanna take the bottle, pull it out, put it to your face, look at it a few times, say, “No that’s not enough,” and put it back three or four times. Don’t do that. You put it in, you pull it out. You immediately go ahead and you cap that bottle. Don’t mess around with it, you wanna get it right the first time and place it on there. Then you go ahead and remember to breathe again and if you have the softener offline, go ahead and put it back online. Alaska. This is from Alaska’s website for their sampling and other than the flushing and stuff that I talk about on trying to flush, and we’ll talk more into that, we talk about bad samples. They get it mostly right where they talk about even down to the point of sample air. Where it talks there on the right hand side, so “Sometimes water samples fail total coliform because of sampling air. Not because the water system is actually contaminated. To ensure does not happen, follow these steps to take a coliform sample from your water.” I like that, that they’ve actually included that that you know what? Sometimes you’re gonna have little problems. We get a lot of what I call nuisance ones where there are one, two counts, things like that over and over again, and our state requires it to be less than one. We never have figured out yet how you can have less than one because there’s half a bacteria is hard to get but… They say we have to have less than one, so we’re going with that. They also talk about to remember that you have to be within the lab within so many hours. You can tell it’s Alaska because they talk about if you’re in a remote area you’ve got to have a flight, but for the most part I like what they’ve done with that particular slide on that. Let’s say if your test comes back bad, and bad I mean that you have a positive count of bacteria. We don’t have a mascot for coliform bacteria. We have Crypty. If anybody’s a fan of satire, the Onion national satire magazine did an article back in 2000, where they talked about this town in Georgia. Blakely, Georgia. And it was 1988. They had a cryptosporidium outbreak, where 600 and like 11 people got sick. The Onion ran a thing saying the next year they had cryptosporidium days where they had everybody come by and they had Crypty the mascot t shirts were made up. No one attended for some odd reason, but I’ve always kinda thought that that was funny that cryptosporidium has a mascot. We need one for coliform. Do not, do not, do not if you get a bad result, accept a pass fail test. A lot of labs are gonna give you a pass fail. It’s gonna give you absolutely no information and not gonna be able to tell you whether or not how to treat it. When we go into this we’ll talk about this in a bit, but if you get low counts you’re gonna wanna treat it differently than high counts. You need that count to figure out exactly what you can and cannot do and where you wanna go from here. You could go anywhere in your house really and find positive samples if you know where to look. If you’re looking at your total coliform counts and E.coli counts, if you get an E.coli count, you’re pretty much eliminating the possibility of sample air. You’ve got some source there that’s causing you a problem. You’re not gonna get a sample air E.coli source. You’re gonna probably need to go ahead and chlorinate that regardless of whatever the total coliform counts are so, coliform counts are low, the E.coli gonna throw you and say, “You gotta go ahead and treat at that point in time.” Do not, do not, do not open that system and chlorinate for low coliform counts. It’s hard to put an exact number. My labs usually come back with that the most possible numbers and I say usually about 10 or 20, if it’s less than that, you probably wanna go ahead and look at just re flushing the system and retesting to see if you had sample air or what happens at that point in time. When any time that you open that system we have some contractors, if you have a one or a two count on your test and another contractor other than myself goes out there and opens up that well, dumps a bunch of chlorine down there, and shock chlorinates it, guess what? The numbers are gonna shoot up, I can almost guarantee it. You’ve basically you’ve introduced a foreign object into that well with the chlorine, you’ve gone ahead and opened up the system and possibly contaminated at that point in time. As the chlorine went down and knocked off all sorts of things on the sides of the well, scale and different calcium counts and things like that are gonna knock off and drop to the bottom. You’ve now stirred up that layer where that air/oxygen interface where things have built up on the side, you’ve caused all sorts of things and more than likely you didn’t actually do anything other than just make the count worse. So if you’re not gonna do it right don’t do it at all basically. Make sure that the system’s flush properly with no dead ends. A lot of older homes have people that have worked on them for over hundred years. They’ve gone in there and they’ve cut off this line and that line and everywhere, there are all sorts places that they have those dead ends. We’ve found that with these older homes, until you get water to pass through those dead ends, chlorinated water to pass through those dead ends, you’re not gonna get the sample to read zero at that point in time, you’re always gonna have low counts. We’ve had to have plumbers come on in, go through the entire house with us and the homeowner, find those dead ends, and then cut them and put actual valves on them that we can flush water through them or they go back to as close as they can in the line and cut and cup them there not to leave anything more than just a very small little stub on that line. You need to be able to do that. Old homes are very notorious for having that problem. You wanna make sure that you’re flushing and all your fixtures. Can’t tell you how many times homeowners tell me they don’t flush because they never use that bathroom. And I’m sitting there going, if you don’t flush the bathroom you’re still gonna have the problem with the coliform bacteria stuck in your lines. It gets stuck in that distribution system and it likes to stay there. We also have times where people don’t know about faucets outside of their house or outside of their building. We had one which was a corn belt energy cooperative, and we had a problem with them that we could never get their sample clean. We finally found outside, behind a bush that no one had ever used in the history of the building there was an outside water spigot behind that bush. Once were able to finally flush that water through that system properly and get chlorinated water all the way to all the different spigots including that hidden faucet, we were finally able to get those coliform counts down. So you also wanna make sure that all your fixtures that are installed are working. You don’t wanna be halfway through your process of trying to track all this stuff down and find all this and then they tell you to go ahead, they wanna go ahead and cut into the lines and install a hot water heater. Anytime that someone’s gonna cut into those lines, that’s gonna run the risk of popping a positive test and recontaminating the system with the coliform bacteria. If the count’s 10 to 20, that’s kinda my own personal preference then go ahead and you wanna chlorinate. To talk a little bit about chlorination procedures. Like I say it’s best to use a licensed contractor. He’s gonna know your depth of your well, your diameter of your well, and be able to calculate the volume of water that you have within the well itself. There are many different states are gonna have code recommendations on the amount of parts per million that you’re looking for. Within our state it’s 100 parts per million what we’re looking for concentration of chlorine. Do not use or recommend household bleach. One thing I hate is when our health departments and our sanitarians go ahead and they talk about, “Go ahead and just pour some bleach down your well,” that happens quite a bit when a home owner calls them up and says, “What I do, I smell something funny,” and they say, “Just go ahead and pour some bleach down your well.” Bleach is only a 7% solution, it’s not shelf stable. So it’s got a shelf life of about a year, depends on how long you’ve had it in your… How long before you bought it on the shelf, and then how long have you had it in your house before it’s any good or not. And then only 7%, you’re gonna have to use a whole lot more of it than what you would if you were the licensed contractor and have access to what I use. I use a 70% solution. It is sodium hydrochloride which is my chlorine and it’s shelf stable for basically its life, so it can sit there all the time and wait to be used. And like I said, being a 70% solution and then I know exactly how much to use to get to my parts per million, I can dose that properly. We’re not talking about the old days where we talked about shocking it where you just dump in a lot and hope that you did it. We’re talking about going through a scientific process of trying to eliminate this bacteria that’s in there and how do you go through and do it. Other reasons not to recommend that homeowners chlorinate themselves. The chlorine itself, it’s a corrosive, there’s a lot of mechanical… Where the pitless connects to the well and where the water actually leaves the well, there’s lot of mechanical contraptions and things right down there, how that all attaches together. As you hit that with corrosive year after year after year, when I go and try to work on that, I’m gonna either break it or it’s not gonna come apart and it’s gonna get very expensive to go ahead and fix. I’m gonna have to bring in backhoes, I’m gonna have to basically dig up the entire pitless adapter, disconnect all that and redo it all because it’s not gonna come out the easy way. If you can, they make specialty products, Sterilene is one of them, that’s a Jet Lube product. I think Cotey Chemical’s making one now that’s called Chloro Plus. Those are pH balanced chlorines. What they do is… They found over the years that chlorine will go ahead and raise that pH and the higher the pH is it’s gonna be a little less effective than if you kept it where it’s supposed to be using the Sterilenes and using the Chloro Plus, those are gonna be a little bit better at what they call being biocidal which is gonna take care of more of your bacteria that are in the well. They’re gonna be a bit more effective than your standard chlorine. If you can’t, standard chlorine is gonna be fine, I use that as well but if you have access to a better product try to use it. More is not better like we talked about, try to know how much that you need to treat. Also go ahead and get a test kit for chlorine. This test it can be your standard pool test kit. It just has to register that you have that chlorine residual within the process. I like to place the chlorine or the Sterilene in the well. I like to start pumping until I get a positive result in my kit, my chlorine test kit. Once I do that, I like to go ahead and I like to recirculate the well. That’s gonna help to go ahead and wash any of the contaminants that we talked about every time you drop chlorine you get stuff that flakes off the sides of the casing, you get dirt and dust, most of these wells all have vents on them so you get all sorts of things down there. If you wash those walls of that casing, you help to wash that up, get an entire mix of product in the well. And try to get as much of that column treated as you can in the well itself to distribute the chlorine throughout the well. Bypass the softener. Like we talked about before, most softeners, you’re not gonna be able to handle the chlorine. They just can’t be chlorinated. There are a few out there that can be. But until you know which ones you can and which ones you can’t, it’s best to go ahead and just bypass them. Bring the chlorinated water up into the house, do the cold side, run it on the cold side at each faucet. You wanna go ahead and watch how much you’re getting and where. As you go through and you go to one faucet, if you test it there, and you go to the next faucet and you’re never getting it, and you’re never getting it, and you’re never getting it, organics and other things in your water can eat your chlorine residual up. I’ve had that before where I had a well in a house, one time. I put in the proper amount of chlorine. I had a great residual at the first faucet. I went to the second faucet and never got it, never got it, never got it. I went back to the first faucet, and I lost it there. It is gone. The chlorine residual had basically been eaten up by all the organics and the other things that were sitting there within the water. We had to do quite a bit of residual on that one to get it up high enough to be able to get to all the different faucets. And we had to do a lot of other special things on that particular house to go ahead and try to get it clean and clear. We did finally get a proper sample on that. But it can take sometime several doses to go ahead and get the entire system. You do not want to overdose though. You wanna run the… Now that you’ve run the cold around there and through, you can run the hot. You wanna remember that on your hot side, your hot water is gonna hold your 40 to 100 gallons in that hot water heater that’s not been treated yet. So you’ve got to flush all that out first before you get that through to all your hot water faucets and your hot water lines. I usually like to let it sit for about three or four hours, longer if possible. Chlorine should kill on contact, but we’re dealing with a world that we can’t see. So I like to give it a little bit of time for it to just to go ahead and make sure that we’ve contacted properly. After the wait, you can go ahead and flush it out until any of the smell of the chlorine is eliminated. And then for, I’d say about a week or so, but it really is just a couple of days, you wanna flush the system inside and out. When you’re flushing, you think of it like this. Think of a house like a city where you see them going out there, and you’re flushing all the fire hydrants. What they’re trying to do when they flush those fire hydrants is two things. They’re one, trying to get chlorine down the line as far as possible and two, they’re trying to bring that velocity, that water scouring movement going down those lines to pick up anything, any debris, any gunk, any nasty turbidity that’s been sitting on the bottom of those lines, and kick that stuff up, and kick it out of the lines, and flush it. That way, those lines get flushed clean and clear. That’s what you’re doing inside of a house. You’re basically treating it like you’re flushing the fire hydrants. So you wanna go around, you wanna turn on one faucet, let it run full blast for about 5 minutes, shut it off. Sometimes, I do it in groups of faucets where you’ll go ahead and you’ll turn one on, flush for a little bit, turn another one on, flush for a little bit, turn another one on, flush for a little bit. Then shut them all down, not to overdo that. A lot of times, especially with private wells, if you were to open up all the faucets all at once, you get a trickle out of each one, and you’re not really getting any scouring, any velocity action moving through those lines. And then like I said take samples after you’ve done that for about a couple of days before they go ahead and do the testing. Take the sample like we talked about it before, preferably in a couple of different locations, one at the tank or one at the distribution system. And like I said, if you have the option, take it at several different spots within the system and see, are you having a distribution, are you having a raw sample problem? Questions? I think we’ll wait till the end and do that as part of the panel. Is that alright? That’d be fine. All right. Thanks. Thank you. I’m going to introduce you. Perfect, sure. So next, we have David Hendrick from… Where am I at here? From Bergerson Caswell in Maple Plain, Minnesota. I couldn’t remember the company. So David is the incoming president of the National Ground Water Association as well as being a water well contractor. So we’ve met many times, I guess. But we were at a meeting last December for NGWA, and we started talking about this conference, and started out, talking about drillers he knows. And it ended up with he found the time to come meet with us, and that’s a great thing. And so, yeah, David Hendrick. Thanks. First, I just want to say thanks to Steve for having me down here. I’ve really appreciated working with you over the years. And it was an interesting opportunity to be able to be a part of this today. So thanks for having me. A little background on Bergerson Caswell. It’s a well contracting company started in 1948. My grandfather actually started with the company in 1952, so the Hendricks have been there for many, many years. Bergerson Caswell is a full service water well contractor. We do everything from residential wells, municipal wells, water conditioning, geothermal irrigation, environmental drilling and sampling, geotechnical work, and more recently have got into directional and horizontal drilling. Really, the primary care of Bergerson Caswell is customer service. We really respect the resource we’re working with and our responsibility to our customers. So making sure that we’re delivering fresh water, making sure that our customers are taken care of is really what Bergerson Caswell strives to do since Ray Bergerson and Tom Caswell started the company. That’s them in the lower right. And BC was started as primarily a municipal well contracting firm that moved into the residential field. And then into the ’70s and ’80s, it spread out into the environmental sector and more recently, started doing a lot of geothermal work. And so Bergerson’s been… Has always looked at “What else can we do for our customers? What else could we do in the industry? And how could be good stewards of the resource.” I included this picture because it’s kinda an oddity, like a picture of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, David Hendrick on the back of a drill rig. Oddly enough, someone here from Wisconsin and that’s the reason that picture exists, photographic evidence that I actually can operate a drilling rig. So I started at a really young age, 15 years old, started sweeping floors, started drilling wells when I was 18. And worked summers through highschool and college. Came back full time in 2001. Obtained my Minnesota drilling license in the early 2000s. I obtained my certified well driller, pump installer certification from the NGWA around the same time. I got my certified vertical closed loop driller certification. Recently, I got my certified geoexchange designer in training, and I’ve held licenses in Nebraska and in Indiana as well over my career. I moved into our environmental department and started managing that from 2005 to 2007. And then managed our geothermal department from 2007 to 2015 and became our vice president in 2014. So it’s odd, most people, when you’ve spent 20 years in an industry, that’s a career, right? In this industry it seems like 20 years is a good start. ‘Cause as I get to travel to conferences and talk with people who really know what they’re talking about, they’ve been doing this for 30 plus years, or 40 years in some cases. So in this industry, I found there’s always things to learn and always people to learn things from which has really worked out well for me and something I really appreciate about our industry. So my professional activities, as Steve said, I’m the president elect of the National Ground Water Association Board of Directors. The NGWA is an 11,000 member organization of scientists, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers, all working for the betterment of groundwater. They work for… Our primary focus is education, public awareness, educating our industry, raising standards. The NGWA has put out many best suggested practices, white papers, we have an ANSI water well standard. We’re a federal advocate for groundwater. And really I would need an entire half hour just to talk about all the activities that that organization engages in. I’m very proud to be a member of it. I’m the vice president of the Minnesota Water Well Association board of directors, which is more of a contractors focused organization, but has real similar goals to the NGWA in that, “If we don’t protect the resource, take care of the resource, be a good steward of the resource, we’re not gonna have much of an industry to work in.” I’m the vice chair of our Minnesota Department of Health Advisory Council, which is one of the reasons that I really jumped at the opportunity to come to this conference ’cause I’ve always had… And maybe it’s just ’cause of my last name and my family’s involvement in the industry in Minnesota but I’ve always had a very good relationship with the Department of Health. I’ve really appreciated how they’ve worked with me over my career and really more of almost a partnership building role, much less as your conventional well cop. And I also spent a little bit time with the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association doing some volunteer work there. At the NGWA, I’m the past chair of our Government Affairs Committee, past chair of our Energy Subcommittee, a NWGA PAX supporter, I worked on our geothermal task group, our McEllhiney lecture task group, and I’m also the NGWA foundation board member, a member of that board. And the foundation is who backs the Darcy lecture series, the McEllhiney lecture series. The foundation supports research and education as well as some developing nation programs as well. For the Minnesota Water Well Association, I worked with our legislative committee and our convention committee. And really, you’ll notice there’s a little bit of a common thread from the legislative front because I’ve always felt that we need to advocate for industry. And one thing on thing on the contracting side of the industry is that, we do a lot of different things in the contracting, the water well contracting world. We’re truck drivers, we’re welders, we’re machine operators, we have to have a lot of core competencies to perform our work. And what happens is that a lot of regulations that are attended, primary users, truck drivers, machine operators, silica mine, drill rig operators, a lot of regulations that are supposed to be focused on one particular sector end up catching our industry in the middle of it. So as I like to say, we’re the dolphin that comes up with tuna on a lot of these regulations. They don’t mean to catch us but they do, so we always try to raise awareness of what those regulations are gonna do to a fairly important and small industry. So I was asked what I saw as some of the future ground water concerns. I think one of the biggest ones, the lack of awareness and understanding of the resource. I recently saw an invitation to a conference, a water conference. It was a ground water focused conference where the logo that they used was a water droplet with a water tower right in the middle of the water droplet, that’s where your drinking water comes from, right? It just poof, right there in the water tower ready for you to drink. And so people don’t necessarily think all the way back, “Okay, so it’s coming out of the tap, but where is it coming from.” And so bringing the awareness of, are you… Do you have a private well? Where does your water come from that you use? I think that, as we talked earlier, it seemed like we pushed that ball up the hill and up the hill and up the hill, and every time it seems like we’re gonna get it to come down the other side, it rolls back on top of us or something else gets in the way. But trying to educate, and trying to get the proper materials, trying to come from a common ground, and really raise awarenesses is very important. Politicizing the resource. This, I think, is probably one of my greatest concerns ’cause in my opinion, once something ends up on the political pendulum, nobody wins. It’s gonna go left and right and left and right, and quite honestly, our industry probably can’t survive that kind of activity because we’re just not big enough. A lot of this industry, a lot of people that work in it aren’t gonna survive eight year swings of good to bad to good to bad. We really need to look at… And we should be really making decisions based on best available science, really letting our organizations that have access to this information make decisions, help make decisions. There’s a lot of areas around the country right now, that you’re really caught up in this political activism of what do you do with groundwater? Washington State, Montana are two specific examples that have ongoing legislative battles trying to, “Who has right to the water? Whose water is it? How do we access it?” And once you get to that point, it gets very, very expensive to try to get your way. So, trying to stay out of that political solution as to what we do with the resources is very important. Competing interests, we’re seeing that all over the country. California is a great example. What’s more important, drinking water or almonds? It seems like a pretty easy question, until you talk to people that say, “Well, I really like almonds.” It’s like, “Well, I’m pretty sure people would not like to die of dehydration.” So, we need to look at what are the best uses of groundwater, what’s resilient, how can we serve everyone’s needs. Because it is above groundwater use, ’cause I don’t think if you put… Minneapolis is a great example where they went and shut in all the one pass cooling wells from underneath the city. Well, that aquifer is recovering, probably right to the level of a lot of the big buildings in the town to the point where they have to de water to make sure that their substructures don’t go underwater. So, understanding what we can use, how much we can use, and realizing that the history of the water cycle is much longer than we probably have data to predict. So, being able to deal with that dynamic situation going forward is very important. Low valuation of water, not necessarily just in the monetary sense, as much of a respect for the resource, understanding that water has value. Because the reality is everyone needs water, so we can’t try to… I think if you try to use monetary stimulus to try to raise that appreciation of water, really is gonna just stratify who’s using water, because quite frankly there’s people in this world that just write the check, “I don’t care. $10,000? Sure I want a green lawn.” And then the people that need the water get somewhat disadvantaged to it. So, trying to raise the respect for the resource and using water properly I see as a big issue. And, I’ll take one for my industry, is that the contractors resistant to improving practices. I think that as an industry, contractors really need to embrace, what does a good code look like? What is the best use of the resource? How can we do a better job of interfacing with our customers? Being more aware. Just using the arsenic example from this morning, there’s two pieces of data in there, one that says the well installer doesn’t always give the best information to the homeowner. But then the homeowner, 48% of people that had recommended treatment options from their contractor went with that option. So the well contractor has already built some trust with the well owner, in that case, is gonna take the recommendation. So how do we improve the contractor’s practices, get them better information, so they can give them the right answer and understand it, ’cause I’ve seen that arsenic talk we saw, that’s like the third or fourth time I’ve seen that talk, and every time I pick up a little more information out of it. So, if I’m still learning from it, I’m sure there’s still more work we can do inside the industry on arsenic and other topics, just to make people more aware. And what can we do together? Educate. It’s the best form of enforcement. As I said, I’ve been pretty lucky, during my career to work with some really good enforcement people in our state that wanted to get out and teach you what the right way to do a procedure, what was the right weight for the grout? Why we do what we do? Why the code is important? And I think it really is the best form of getting the job done right, best way of getting the job done right. Actively engage the industry, and work with your willing partners. Sometimes I think there’s a pull to go to the lowest common denominator, and try to pull them up. Sometimes, a better approach might be just find your willing, work with them, and then drag everyone else along kicking and screaming. Because, really, I’ve got no desire to have people doing substandard work in my industry. Absolutely just don’t have any desire to see it. So anything that I can do to help people understand why we should be elevating our practices, I’m more than willing to help do. Realize that we’re industry partners. We do have a symbiotic relationship. Really with one, there isn’t the other. So we need to make sure that the codes and standards are upheld, that people are performing work to the highest levels and really continue to improve those standards. Have a sound, logical enforcement model. Don’t fall into the engineer’s trap. Just ’cause you can write it on paper, doesn’t always mean that it will work in reality. So make sure that… We were talking about some Wisconsin laws, it was like, “Well, we wrote it. Well now how are we gonna do it? How are we gonna enforce it? Is it just something that we’re making the good eggs follow all the bad eggs, just cut the corners?” make sure that we’ve got a model that everyone can follow and enforce. And gather industry input when crafting rules. As part of the Minnesota Department of Healths Advisory Council, we get to at minimum discuss the regulations that are coming down the pipe and really look at, “Can we do this as an industry? Can it be performed? Is it practical? Is it the best science?” And I think that input process makes rules a lot easier to enforce and apply when you actually get them out on the street. Thank you, that was all. Thank you. So our third driller is Corwin Gingerich from Gingerich Well and Pump Service in Kalona, Iowa. And I reached out to Corwin after I met him last year. We were working with Chris Adams in Hancock county to seal a well that was basically in downtown Macomb, an old dug well was in somebody’s backyard. And Corwin and his son who’s also a driller came over and sealed the well, provided the bentonite and actually we’re educating some of the health professionals who were there as a… It was kind of a workshop I guess you’d say. They got CEUs for it and so… Did a great job in front of those guys, telling them what was going on and trying to help them understand what was going on there and I just thought… So we reached out and willing to come over so, all right. Thank you. Willing might be a little bit of a stretch but I do a better job with probably a hard hat and boots and a little mud on the ground. But anyway, like he said, I’m Corwin Gingerich and I’m part of the third generation of Gingerich Well. See if I can get this thing on. Anyway, the slides aren’t all… My topic’s gonna bounce around a little bit. When I talked to Steve originally he said, “Just hit on some things that you feel are deficits or where they could be better or what you see a lot of… ” And a lot of it boils down to, I think when I kept trying to refine further and further and further, okay, what’s the core is, what’s the core? And everybody’s hit on it: It’s relationships. We see a lot in the sanitation side. I guess out of curiosity and you got people all over the country too, but how many people in here deal directly with a contractor of some kind like a driller? I mean… Yeah, good. Anyway, we see it… We work in primarily three different states: Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. Lots of different rules. There’s counties in Iowa that I can get a phone call at five o’clock on Friday night, “I need a well,” and depending on what county they’re in, I might tell them, “I’ll see you in two weeks.” And they say, “But I’m out of water,” and I say, “There’s nothing I can do. That county is two weeks.” And it’s been getting better. And then there’s counties that I can turn around, say, “Hey, I know the sanitarian. I’ve got his cell number. I can make a call. We can get emergency locate. I think I’ll see you Monday morning.” And so the process is getting better but I would say, again, the relationship side, the better a relationship we have with the county, the better things move. And in the end, sometimes when there are stumbling blocks, I feel like when the customer’s here and the sanitarian’s here and I’m standing in the middle, waiting for the thing to get done to say, “Okay, we’re okay. Raise the derrick and drill a well.” I sometimes stand back and think, “You do realize that you’re working for them and we’re kind of the middleman and we’re trying to keep peace everywhere.” And it works good but I think again, the relationships is the biggest thing. And if we can keep moving as far as going forward with the phone calls, with the showing up and our best relationship with counties are the counties that we see. There’s some counties that I probably drilled a dozen wells in in a year and I’ve never met the sanitarian and that’s not that they’re not coming out, sometimes they’re there ahead of time, they’re doing GPS coordinate, they’re checking our distances afterwards. And some of those counties… Lot of counties, the person in charge… Especially in the Illinois side, I see they’re in charge of food, they’re inspecting restaurants. My sanitarian in what used to be my home county and they subbed that out, he used to have to check the drains in the swimming pool. He had a pair of swim trunks in the back of his car and he was well inspection in the morning, checking the kitchen McDonald’s in the afternoon, and going for a swim in the evening to check the drains. And so they’re wearing a lot of different hats. But kind of a backup of where we came from, much like some of these guys, my grandpa started the business and made me by default… He’s obviously gone at this point but my grandpa started the well drilling business pretty much because he was too cheap to pay someone to fix his well. And he went out… That’s obviously not one of them. We still have parts of the one that… He went out and built something to drill his well and it was in a 120 foot alluvial aquifer area, an old three inch well with a windmill on top and literally built it, drug it out in the field, drilled his well, and went back to tear it back apart again and the neighbor said, “Hey, before you do that, I want one.” And that was 1955. Anyway, my brother and I, like I say, are partners in the business, and both of our oldest sons are working in the business now and so we’re hoping it carries on. I’m seeing some good interest from the fourth generation. We did get a lot of our education was with boots and hard hats. We attend a lot of seminars and work with lot of friendly competitors, we say, back and forth. There’s times we might learn more from a competitor than we do from a seminar. We get a phone call every now and then say, “Hey, I’m stuck in a hole. This and this.” And, “What do you have above you?” and honestly those are some of the best conversations that we have because it’s what we do. We enjoy what we do and I know I speak for my brother on that also. To go over some things in various… With the size of business that we’re getting and the number of employees we’ve got in different departments. We got 39 different employees working with us. Some guys, for six months of the year might be sandblasting, painting equipment. It doesn’t have anything to do with water wells but the wells don’t get drilled if they don’t do their job and that’s back to the relationship side of it. And, like I said, we’re primarily in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. And looking back over the last five years which was the easiest thing to compile just because of the computer software. But, in the last five years, we’ve averaged 475 wells per year. We work with a lot of… 80% of the wells that we drill, we would work with, would be an out of town well for us. We would work with a local contractor that’s maybe a hardware store that puts in pumps, or maybe somebody that does septics and they also do pump repair. And so, 80% of the wells we drill, we would drill the well, work with the local, but we would call the pump installer, and then also run into the sanitation at that side, and they would finish the well work, and then the 20% of the work we do, we would also do pump repair. Anyway, we’ve primarily got four main crews that we go out. We’re getting more and more into some municipal projects. We’ve bought some larger equipment for some deeper projects and do a little bit of oil and gas exploratory stuff for some gas fields. But for the most part, our bread and butter is the residential, ag, some irrigation. And the industry is definitely changed. I remember many a nights sitting at the kitchen table, phone rings, and Dad’s comment was “Yep, we’ll have a rig there in the morning.” And now, it’s not quite like that. Illinois, you’ve got your JULIE calls, and Iowa, you’ve got your one call, and back to touch base at the Sanitation Department, getting a permit and again back to, I can’t say it enough, those relationships. It’s so nice to be able to tell a customer that you’ve worked for for 20 years, “I’ll be right there,” because if you have a county that you have that relationship with… And especially in Illinois too, budget cuts are a big thing, so every chance you get to put a plug in to keep some funding coming to these sanitation sides. If the county doesn’t have a person that we can contact, it’s more of a risk for us and we’re maybe slower to respond ’cause we sit there and say, “Okay, there’s some hoops that need going through and we don’t really have that person we can just make a quick phone call to,” and that’s made the jobs more and more difficult. But we work in about 93 different counties across those three states and, again, right back to… I could probably tell you there’s 15 of those guys I got their home cellphone numbers in my pocket, and any given time, I can call them and ask them a question. And it’s great to have those relationships. It’s gotten better especially in the last few years. When we first started coming further and drilling more into Illinois, we ran into something we don’t have in Iowa, we’d get our well permits and get our paperwork all on a row. And in Illinois, a few years ago, they’ve slightly changed their rule a little bit, but had a 48 hour window that they wanted notified that, “Okay, I’ve got a permit in your county,” and I’ll pick on Chris since he helped Steve remember my name when they were trying to come up with speakers. But I could call Chris Monday morning and say, “Hey, I’ll be there on Wednesday.” And Chris is a guy that, because of that relationship, I can turn around and say, “Hey, I’ve got a rig sitting two miles down the road, they’re gonna be done tomorrow night, is there any way I can get there?” And they’ve been great to work with. And there’s been some counties that I’ve been told, “Yeah, no problem. I’ll meet you out there. If I’m late, don’t worry about it, get started, I’ve seen your work before. Call me when you grout, I really wanna be there for that,” and then I’ve had some counties turn around and say, “No, except 48 hours.” And we’ve gone through the spectrum of calling back a couple times and saying, “Please” and sometimes they stick to their guns. I don’t have any problem with those rules. We get a little frustrated sometimes when the 48 hour window rolls around and then the inspector didn’t show up, and then we start saying, “Well why did we wait 48 hours if it’s really not that important to see.” But I know that scheduling’s important. They have gone to in Illinois to where they don’t necessarily have to see every grout inspection, but they have to catch you a certain number of times a year, so it’s much better now that we don’t turn around and all of a sudden if the schedule doesn’t fit and it’s an emergency they can say, “Hey, I’ve done your inspection and you’re good to go for this period of time.” But, water testing as we’ve gone to and it seems like everybody keeps sitting on water testing. Water testing is huge. Like he was saying, it used to be one or two a week. I bet my dad didn’t take 10 tests a year. And now we can almost Monday morning tell when there’s been an article in the paper about water tests. The answering service over the weekend, if it’s not an emergency they don’t forward it to our pagers and we get there Monday morning and it’s like, “What paper is this?” And you look down and, sure enough, you start figuring out the town. And people get a little bit panicked and we start going down that. And the spectrum of things is Iowa has done a good job with some water testing as far as making some grants to counties to where they can turn around and say, “Okay. Hey, we’re gonna turn this over to the health department, let the health department come in,” and we’ve seen different things, too, with working with health departments. The health department sometimes isn’t, maybe it’s a newer person or there’s someone that hadn’t done a lot of water sampling. And we had a little subdivision of five homes, and one house kept failing it, and of course they were the most vocal person in the crowd and we finally said, “Forget it, we’re gonna try to go take our own test.” And I could never get a hold of this person. I finally asked the county, I said, “How did you get a sample? These people are never home.” And he said, “Well, I finally just took a sample outside.” And, like you, I’m like, “Ah, don’t go to that outside spigot.” So, when I went there I knocked on the door, nobody home, figured maybe they just weren’t answering my call. And went around the outside and still couldn’t find the spigot, so I called the county sanitarian and said, “I’m not even finding a spigot.” And they said, “Well, it’s by the back door.” So, I went to the back door and bushes all overgrown over the house and, sure enough, I crawled underneath this bush, knocked down all the cobwebs, moved the dog bowl, and there’s the sample. And I called the guy back and I said, “Please don’t tell me that this is the spigot that you’re at.” And he’s like, “that’s all I got.” So, I agree, but so we ended up getting inside and getting a good sample. Got everybody calmed down. But, again, the sampling’s huge. And I would agree the count of a sample, and I don’t know how many counties do samples through the sanitation side of it. But that most probable number, that bacteria count over and over we’ll get people calling back saying, “Hey, I just drilled a brand new well. I just spent this money, I built this house, and I failed this test.” And we hate to hear that for starters, but a failed test sometimes is so close to not being a failed test. We really need that count to know where you’re at. We get pass/fails and then we test it again and it’s still a fail. And even with the older wells I’ve had people call me and say, “Hey, we can’t pass the test. We just want a new well.” And you show up and look at the well and it’s not in a well pit, it’s got a good cap on it, it seems like a system with some integrity to it and you say, “Just wait. Let’s take one sample, let’s go to that sample tap. Get one sample that didn’t go through the softener, didn’t go through the aerator.” And a lot of times we’ll find it’s a relatively low count and sometimes they’re laughing at us saying, “Well, I told you I wanted a well drilled and now here you’re gonna do a couple hundred dollars worth of treatment and you just worked yourself out of a job.” But, at the same time, I feel like that’s where that relationship can be built between us and them and the trust goes a long way. But, there’s a lot of times those systems can be cleaned up if we just realize that they’re not off the charts with bacteria counts. And we don’t see as much of the arsenic as I’m hearing in here. We’re seeing more and more of it. Northwest Iowa has, North Central Iowa’s got some areas and even locally we’ve got some areas with some little lower counts of arsenic. But, kinda bouncing back and forth again on what we do. Some of our municipal stuff, my brother does a lot of that. I think a lot of the reasons we do some of the jobs we do, and I’m sure you guys are the same way in the water well industry, sometimes the phone rings and it’s maybe a job you’d rather not do. It doesn’t sound like it’s conducive to being a productive project. But, a lot of times some of the jobs that no one else wants, can be some of the best jobs you’ll wind up getting. It doesn’t always seem that way up front, but we’ve always prided ourself on the fact that there’s times I know I’m not the most cost effective person. I shouldn’t say cost effective. I’m not the cheapest person on the list. And there’s times that, I’ll still get the job and I’ll ask the customer, “Well, why?” And he said, “Well, I could tell when the other guy showed up, he didn’t wanna do it. He didn’t see it as a challenge, he didn’t see it as something that in the end he’ll be proud of what he did.” And he said, “I liked what you had to say.” And it’s back to relationships. Show up on the job, boots on the ground, shake a hand, and, again, work with your counties. I’m used to the Iowa side a little more, so I keep saying, “County, county, county.” And I know that you get into some other states and it’s regional, but those contacts are huge. Again, some of this is the fourth generation coming on. Both my brother and I’s oldest sons are certified well drillers. Kind of an odd picture, that one on the lower left, that’s my brother and I. That’s actually an artesian well gone bad. We were in an area with some flowing wells and knew some pressures and some elevations and we were almost on the top of a hill. And it was the night before Thanksgiving about 10 years ago and drilled this well, everything was going good. We expected a 15 to 20 foot water level. Well, before the project was done, it was not. And the water you see in the background, it’s not being air lifted, it’s not being pumped. We slept in our pickups, missed Thanksgiving, and called the cement company in on Thanksgiving day to bring us six loads of concrete to get the well cap but we had about 1100 gallons a minute rolling down the hill and it was an exciting Thanksgiving season. And then back to, again, relationships. We’ve got, sometimes, depending on the mechanics and the season, and the summer help, we’ve had up to 39 guys and we’ve gone to… We know everybody by name. My brother and I work with the business and both of us are boots on the ground everyday. And we’ve got guys obviously key guys as every company does that you turn to in a pinch and you sit there every morning with a list of where you have to go and who you have to send and you start shuffling that around and this is back in the Illinois struggle with the 48 hours that we’re getting past but you start saying, “This particular well, this guy’s really good at. And his rig is 60 miles away and this one is five miles away but it doesn’t matter. I’m sending him over there,” and then sometimes you get there and the contractor unloaded rafters in the driveway and here you sit. You can’t get in the drive and… So, working with the counties, it’s important that that they can see that that transition is not on purpose when we sometimes say we’re gonna show up and get there and can’t and call and cancel and then call back two days later in a hurry because the concrete crew wants in. Anyway, I think I don’t know if these slides are gonna keep rolling or not but I had a couple other things on here and these were just some slides from our website and out of our little photo album at the shop. The grouting thing as they talked about in the Nebraska study, I see that as a huge thing and I think Illinois also. I remember when Illinois went to full hole grout, a lot of guys were like, “Son of a gun. This is gonna add time, this is gonna add money,” and they were ahead of the game on that and that’s fantastic. I think we’re getting there in Iowa I feel. I do probably have some issues with… And I don’t wanna turn this into picking on competitors, that’s not the thing, but we all need to step up our game, we all need to get to the point where we say, “You know what, if you think something might help, do it. If you know something might help and no one’s asking you to do it, do it anyway.” And so, grouting is huge in that way. I’ve had guys… The geothermal market was a little tougher in Iowa, it got real competitive, a lot of rigs showed up especially when the tax refunds were there, and I’ve had guys that work for me witness guys drilling geothermal fields, showing up on the last day, putting one bag of chips down the well and stuffing them in with a broom handle and putting them away and leaving. And I’m sitting there thinking, “Now, I’ve gotta go to that next door neighbor and make a 200 foot sand and gravel well and still try to get a good test, and now there’s three basically 200 foot sand and gravel wells with no grout in them right next door to me.” And so a lot of those things, that we just gotta be more conscientious as contractors, we have to do the best we can, we have to have that knowledge of what’s going on downhole. And I’ve known the guys from Kickapoo for a while, been in a lot of meetings with them, they did a real good job of helping with some education stuff. We’ve sent guys over to their shop for some education for their Illinois groundwater certification. I haven’t got to meet Dave but it’s obvious by the amount of experience he’s got into it, he knows these things, that we’ve gotta step up our game, we have to… Some states are, I’m not sure about up north, the battle of rural water. And we say the battle… It’s a competitor to us. In the end is it a good thing? Yeah, I hate to see the young couple out of college get married, build a house, and all of a sudden need a $10,000 well, but at the same time when they expand their farm and need a well, because of livestock and the cost of rural water, we need to be there as a viable resource for them. And if they can get a reasonable well and turn around and have that paid for, but there’s times that you have remote areas and there’s rural water available and there’s… I can think of places here in Illinois that the two options are a 700 foot dug well or a 700 foot drilled well or some rural water on the Iowa side, and I sit there and say, “You know, I can’t blame you for that choice, for $1000 you can get hooked up and running or $25,000 and you’re gonna need a water well.” But if we can present a package that is viable, that is reusable, and is something that when we’re back to the testing side, to present that package and turn around and fail water test after water test after water test, we didn’t do ourselves any good and we lose a little respect in the hindsight of all that. But anyway that’s all I’ve got. I appreciate your time and don’t know if I’m over, under, but… Okay, so we have 30 minutes and so the idea here really was, we knew that most of the folks who were coming to this event were either public health professionals, or educators, or researchers, or regulators. And so, the whole point of having the drillers panel is to have some drillers appear to talk about the issues that they see in the industry, things that are their pet peeves if there are any or that work well. And so my hope is we can spend the next 30 minutes asking them questions. ‘Cause my take on things is we have a lot to do even as groundwater hydrologists working with health professionals a lot of times they don’t understand ground water, and I don’t understand public health that well. Most of the time, my take is we should have teams of people working on these issues not one or the other. And I see that way too much is the bottom line. So any questions for these guys either for their talk or just in general? Just come up to the mic if you would. So having worked at a health department for many years the bidding process when you guys bid to do a private well for somebody for some drillers it also includes going back a couple times to chlorinate if you have positive samples or they’ll guarantee the well to be silt free. What kinda guarantees or warranties come with that private household well like pump and things like that? Any of you. All of you. Guarantees that go with a… You have your manufacturer’s warranties on most of your pumps, tanks, things like that. Some contractors will go farther and do more extended warranties, will go up to five years on that. Now when you’re talking your potability, sand free, silt free, there is an expectation in the Illinois water code of sand free water at a certain point. There is not a quality type issue with it, it won’t be calcium free or it won’t be softened, it won’t be this… ‘Cause there’s no way, especially in the area that I work in, you’ve got some of the worst water and the best water I’ve seen within about three miles of each other when it comes to not potability but quality with, like I said, the calcium, calcium iron counts, pH, tannins, things like that. What else? What other guarantees that you have for chlorination and things, usually I don’t include it in say my bid or my process, I’m still a little bit behind the times and the fact that I like to go out there and do the handshake and a smile for most of my contracting where I would usually do a one page estimate or quote listing out all the different things that I’m gonna do, I haven’t gone to the multi page full out contract yet, that list out specifically, “Well, I’m gonna drill your well to this particular depth and then I’m gonna go ahead and we’re gonna test it, and we’re gonna come back and chlorinate it three times and then… ” Usually I’ll give them several chlorinations to get to a certain point but if I have to start going past chlorinations where it’s not legal in the state to go ahead and put chlorinators on but they allow it when I go ahead, I’m doing it to try to get good tests because what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to get a residual up to a certain point. If I gotta go ahead I gotta put chlorinators on, then I gotta come back and check those every day and do things like that. Them I go ahead and I start charging fees as to that if I gotta go a little bit above and beyond the norm then I go ahead and make sure that I’m covered myself at that point of time. Yeah, I would agree with that. I think there’s a lot of, and I’m assuming he’s in the same boat, you’ve some unwritten… We’ve always said I can stand behind the products that are in the well, I can stand behind my workmanship. There’s certain areas that I’d go to that I would say sometimes we know ahead of time. Good example two months ago we had a project, went in, the area’s quite diverse as far as water quality, but had an area that I wouldn’t have expected it pulling in, pull a county permit. Nobody’s really raising any red flags at this point, drill a well, got done and the nitrate level was higher than we expected. It was in an area where I expect to see a little bit of nitrate but the nitrate level was quite high and at that point, of course, the customer was saying, “Hey, what’s going on here?” And we dug into it a little deeper and the county dug back in some archives and said, “Okay, I found five wells within a mile of here and the nitrate level’s high in all of them.” And we started questioning and the customer was present, the county was present we started questioning and grouting insert saying, “Hey, you know what… ” As they talked about sometimes grouts fail. We pressure grouted the well, it was put in to code, it was put in, like I say, not to pawn it off on the county at all, but the customer’s question is, “Well how do I know you did what you were supposed to do, ’cause I don’t know anything about a well?” And we kinda leaned back and say, “Well, the county’s here and they know what we’re supposed to do and they would agree we did it the way we’re supposed to do it” and in that situation we came back and said, “Look, there is some water pH issues and if anybody’s worried about the fact that the bentonite broke down or the bentonite didn’t get everywhere it needed to be due channeling or whatnot” We said, “We’ll come back in and we’re gonna go off the site a hundred feet, we’re gonna make the well again” and in some conversation with the county we decided it was maybe some better fit for cement grout. And turned around and changed what we did and in the end we still had a nitrate count and in that situation it was something that the customer’s like, “I don’t think I should have to pay again” and I said, “Well, you’re not gonna have to.” I said, “I agree we’re questioning the outcome.” So our particular way to approach that was I’m gonna say, “You’re only gonna pay for what I did different. You paid me for 215 foot well two months ago you’re gonna pay me… The only thing different is I’m gonna use cement grout in the meantime he had got online of course and said, “Well, maybe I need better casing?” and I said, “Well, I don’t think that’s the case the casing’s rated at 200, we’ve only set it to 170 in this range, and actually it’s rated 260 feet, but okay we’ll put in a heavier walled casing.” So we used a heavier walled plastic casing which was kinda of a moot point in my opinion but the cement grouting wasn’t a bad idea in that spot and in the end we just said, “Okay, if you’re willing to pay that difference, that’s all we’re gonna charge you for.” And in the end, when the nitrate level come back high, the customer, of course still has a nitrate level he has to deal with. But he at least feels like, “You know what? You did your part.” And I get the impression he felt like, “In the end, I got two wells for the price of one. And I’m gonna plug the one,” but we feel like we need to stand behind every decision we can. I’d love to go backwards, and start saying, “Okay, every time I pull a permit, I’m asking the county to dig in the archives, and find me all the logs around it.” And it just doesn’t always happen that way but, so, we’ve usually said, “We can’t stand behind the quality as far as… ” he was referring to the iron, and calcium, and magnesium, and all that stuff. And there’s even certain parts in the northeast part of the state, where we’d know up ahead of time, say, “Hey, you either wind up with a 200 foot well with a nitrate level, that you’re gonna have to agree to live with. Or you drill a 600 foot well. And you don’t have that. And you don’t have to treat it.” So a lot of times, our bidding process would say, “If we know that problematic area, we get done… ” We’ll send them two bids and say, “Just be aware that 200 footer, that you’ve got neighbors all over the board with different nitrate levels.” And again, that’s part of the state, we don’t see as much arsenic. But if it’s there, we’ll work with you, is all we can. But we try to stand behind the workmanship, and the product. The flow is something that’s always questionable too. We’ve got a few areas that it’s hard to get a five gallon a minute well in. And if there’s not rural water available, they don’t have any choice. And we can’t ever stand behind the quantity that we… I know is… When you work at a health department, you try to encourage people not to take the low bid on a job. Make sure you’re comparing the work on equal footing. This guy might leave the supply line, and not cover it. You look at your bid. You could never recommend somebody, and that makes it really difficult, so… Yeah, there’s definitely a value component to it. Just, real quick, that the tag on the sand free, silt free, well development is one area that is absolutely a differentiator between a lot of contractors out there, where some will… Predominantly, you’ll see an air lift method for developing a lot of residential wells. Some people turn it on till it clears up, and walk away. Other people spend time functionally working the formation, sorting their gravel packs, or developing their open hole, to make sure that they are to that sand free, silt free point. And it absolutely makes the difference between quote A and quote B. Go ahead. Mark, you mentioned chlorination, and I’ve been having a discussion with well drillers in Vermont, where I’m working with Department of Health about customers complaining about the level of chlorine in their system, after shock chlorination. And so, we’re talking about at what levels should we actually shock chlorinate the system after a new well has been drilled? And I have been, maybe this is a question for everyone, because I’ve been trying to figure out… So, some states say 100. And some say 50. And some say 200. But I haven’t really been able to find any scientific research that says why that is. And I was wondering if anyone who would know anything about that, would help me with clearing that out? The scientists and the engineers in the room probably are gonna be the better ones to ask about that. You’re right, there is no 100% certainty on, everybody’s got a slightly different level that they like to see that chlorine residual placed to to do its best. I understand why they’re trying to… They’re trying to get to a point where it’s not so much, that it becomes really corrosive. It’s not so much that it becomes to the point where it’s not doing its job, that it’s raising that pH out of whack. They’re also worried about long term methods of chlorination and things like that. If you put too much of the chlorine in there. Especially with PVC casings, leaching out of all the bad trihalomethanes, and all the nasty stuff that you’re gonna get out of doing that. So they’re trying to walk that fine line between how much you can put in, and how much you can’t. So it’s, like I said, I know what our state requires. And that’s pretty much the guidelines that I go by, with the 100 part per million. I know EPA has a different level. And, like I said, there’s another different level floating around out there somewhere else. But I’d probably not be the expert to ask on that one. But somebody else in the room might be able to help you. Yeah, I think… I know I’m gonna get dirty looks from the Health Department that’s sitting right here. But you go ahead. On break point chlorination, technically, you want to up the chlorination to reach break point, to where you have free chlorine in the water to disinfect the system. That’s basically the goal. So, whether that means 100 parts per million, or on that one system you were talking about, where you’ve just lost all your residuals, that one you might have had to bring it up to 500 parts per million in the well to get enough residual in the distribution system to reach breakpoint, to have enough free chlorine to disinfect the system. So have there been any studies that show that… ____. I’m sorry. Has there been any studies that showing that 100 parts per million… Come to the mic. Okay? So, Virginia Tech is currently working on this. We have a bunch of students working in the summer, looking at how much chlorine do we need to add? What elements in our well water will use up the chlorine, so we can make it site specific? I’d be happy to share that with you when we’re all done. It’s a three month experiment, and I think we started two weeks ago, or so? But yeah, we’re also doing a survey of all the shock chlorination protocols given out by states. So if anyone wants to help us, we would love to, ’cause some of them are very hard to find. But, yeah, so we’re trying to get an idea of who’s doing what, and what actually works, in terms of shock chlorination. Be happy to share. All right, perfect. That sounds good. So, then, for my two cents, we’ve developed a private well class. I’ve probably even looked at 50 or 60 of those and the one I chose to use was because of how thorough it was and how easy it was for the well owner to understand the step by step process and that was the one from the Minnesota Department of Health, they get the prize. What’s interesting though… The most interesting part of this, though, is last year at a meeting, one of the Regional Minnesota Department of Health staff were at a meeting I was at, and he came up and found me and said, “You know on your webinar in March where you said this document from 2012, they updated it and made it… Their marketing people said it should be made more succinct and so it went from 10 pages down to 6.” And I was on a webinar and I said, “I still use the 10 page one because it’s got pictures. It shows people exactly what they’re supposed to do. It’s got the table in it still.” And he came up and said, “All the staff wanted to use the 10 page one. It was the administration that made them switch it.” So we still list the 10 page one on our website for the Private Well Class. Like I said, that wasn’t mostly to look at whether it’s… I don’t even remember what level it says on there but it’s because it’s for a well owner, it needs to be the process they have to follow. Some of them are half of a sheet and that’s not enough information. Well owners don’t know what they’re doing in too many cases which just goes back to the point of some of them probably shouldn’t be disinfecting their wells in the first place. Who was first? I think you were. Just a side comment on that, we’re looking at shifting all our publications to tell people to call a well professional rather than trying to do it themselves because there’s too many things that can go wrong. But so my question for the panel is, I’m a regulator from Wisconsin and it sounds like all three of you are industry professionals that respect the role of regulation so I’m willing to challenge you with this question. Are there some regulations that you’ve run across that you’re willing to share that you think just don’t make any sense or are too difficult to follow that you can just give us some ideas as we try to have effective regulations but also trying to understand how does it work from your perspective? Something that doesn’t make sense or is too hard to follow. Yeah, real simple one he actually said it once already. And it’s not necessarily regulation but just maybe a protocol or a common practice is, I could never understand, and Iowa’s the same way, that the mandatory sample tap that never gets used. You get the customer, again, they’re upset, they have a new system and they didn’t pass the test, and you ask them about the sample tap and they said, “Well, no. Nobody ever went in the basement.” And we’ve kinda got to the point where we’ve said, “You know what? We’ll be glad to come out. If it’s a new well, we’ll come out and take a free test for you.” The other side of it is, I’ve had guys show up with papers on the counter and they’re not a most probable number, they’re just failed, failed, failed. And I usually slide them right back and said, “Unless it comes from a sample tap and unless there’s a number on it, I’m gonna ignore it.” Because so many times we get fails and we go out and simply go to the sample tap. And again, the other day, I was just sure it would be one and we came back with a two, at the sample tap. I was wrong. But we have failed numerous times at the kitchen sink and then we gets up from the sample tap, doing a lot of… I’ve been in crowds where people laugh and they say, “Don’t turn the lid upside down.” But he’s right, don’t turn the lid upside down. It’s huge. You open that bottle in the right environment and you actually see dust particle stick, and it’s difficult to get a good test. And I don’t know that I’ve seen a lot of really bad codes or bad regulations in my experience but I envision the bad regulation or bad code really would come back to enforceability. If you’re gonna write it, make sure you can enforce it, make sure that the regulation’s not overly complicated, make sure it’s attainable, make sure it’s something that people can do. Sometimes I have seen either a specification or codes that push you in a direction that just you can’t accomplish. So really, make sure it can be done and make sure that you can get everyone to follow the procedure. I would kinda echo that. I guess, kinda what David said there about the ones where sometimes the regulations hurt the good guys and they are indifferent to the guys who don’t do it right in the first place. I was talking about it over lunch with a coworker that we’ve been in situations where the homeowner’s still supposed to follow the same rules and regulations that we’re supposed to follow and they’ve gone ahead and done stuff that lately, if I had gone and done that, the local health department would have been after my license. And they would have the State’s attorney call and said that I can’t do that. But they’ve gone out to this homeowner and basically told him that, “Well, you’re not allowed to do that but I can’t touch you.” And so the only thing that the authorizer told me is, “Please give me a call when the well breaks and we’ll come on out there and stand there with you and at least be able to try to talk to this guy and try to make him do what he has to do.” But it’s one of those things where he got away with it. Now the contractor… I got two or three contractors that are in my local area that do not follow any of the same rules that I follow. I’ve got one that actually has no license that drills water wells and the health department has told me that because he has no license, they can’t go after him. And I was sitting there and go, “So would you like my license back?” And they don’t have a good answer for that. Just to go back to the technical documents on shock chlorinating. Another one for Oregon is that Oregon health authority, it’s pretty easy to find but those weren’t created for private wells. Those weren’t created for homeowners to try to use to shock chlorinate their own system. So Mark brought up some good points that I didn’t really think about when I’m giving recommendations to domestic well people. It’s different than when I normally do, when I’m talking to public water system operators and so I think, just to takeaway from that is, most of those documents aren’t created for homeowners to use. Even though that document actually says we allow people in Oregon who have a small public water system to use household bleach, even though you said, “Don’t use household bleach.” As long as they calculate it right, and they’re doing it appropriately, and these are people that have just taken a Small Water System Operator class. They’re not operating a large system, they don’t have any treatment. But we allow them using this document to do this on their public water system. It can work. It’s just a question of, does it work? And there’s just no way to know that when you recommend it. Yeah. And you had a good point. Home owners are even less educated. They’re not gonna normally know how to do that. So that was a good point on… Don’t encourage them to do it themselves, and use household bleach and… It comes down to… When you’re trying to hit certain amounts like he’s talking about, you’re tryin to hit a certain… That certain residual, that certain free amount that’s gonna do what it’s supposed to do. A lot of that comes down to how much water do you have in the well? How deep the well is, and how much product do you wanna treat to it? So when you just tell somebody, your homeowner just goes out there, pours in whatever they do, they’ve got no idea how much they’re puttin’ in, what they’re doin, and if they’re even being effective or not. And they go and tell you, “Oh yeah, I’ve chlorinated three times.” And they’re ticked because they got bad sample, bad sample, bad sample, and the reason is they’re not doin’ it right, and have no idea that they’re not doing it right. No one’s told them that. So that was my point on that. I just did a well assessment in northern Illinois at last fall where the owner told me that the driller told him to put a cup of bleach down his well every month. So, yeah. Cliff, you’re up next. So I’m gonna ask one more question along these lines. So I’ve answered hundreds and hundreds of well owner calls. My role is try to educate well owners, and I see a real chasm between the many organizations that put out specific instructions on well disinfection for the well owner, but I also see the other side where there are probably many instances where the practicality of getting a contractor out to a well, particularly if you have a flooding situation where there’s just only so many contractors to go around. I guess I’m wondering what people think about, what is the most responsible advice that could be given to a well owner who wants to get their well disinfected as far as moving forward with that? In other words, if it’s not gonna be, “This is exactly how you do it. Go ahead and try to do it yourself,” and every situation not be able to be addressed by a contractor, what would be the responsible thing to say. I have a thought on that, but I’m interested in what other people think ’cause it’s a real chasm there. There’s a lot of this and there’s a lot of that. See, the real trick is understanding how the entire system works, and I’m sure these guys have seen it. You go and you immediately know which homeowners have been chlorinating their well because you can’t get the pitless out, right? The thing’s so corroded together. You basically have to yank the entire pitless adapter right off the casing in order to get the pump out of the well. There are good procedures out there. There is… Talk about the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. Other states have similar printable guidelines, so it can be done. It’s whether they’re gonna do Step One through 20, or if they’re just gonna do Steps One through 17 and call it good. So I think the responsible answer would be if you have no other option, here’s a place you can get instructions and make sure you go from very top to the very end, or else down the road you’re gonna either affect your well negatively, have issues with service, and cost yourself more money down the road. There’s a lot of well owners who can’t afford or won’t spend the money on a contractor, so the question becomes, is it better for them to do nothing or to try to do it themselves? So, at least what we do with our class is we recommend a good procedure that we think works. And so they’ve gotta have some wherewithal when it comes down to it. The bleach thing everybody would agree is not ideal, but you get in that situation, you’re gettin 30 phone calls ’cause some little river valley just flooded, and flushing, obviously, is huge to begin with. Get rid of all the bad water that you can, but to me, if you get in that kind of situation, you need to flush your well as long as you can. Some situations you got a three gallon a minute well and you tell ’em to flush it, right away I say, “Run your hose for four hours.” Well, you hang up the phone and realize that person can’t. But worse case scenario, I would turn around and say, “Hey, if you have no other resource, do the bleach, get on the list, get a contractor out there but flush your well often and do what you have to, but again, you’re back to opening up a system, and so it’s a slippery slope. One thing, too, you may still need to get a contractor involved because if you’re talking floods or some sort of natural disaster like that, you may have particulate matter that got in there and other things that got in there that went right to the bottom of the well, and the contractor’s the only one who’s gonna have the tools to pull the pump, blow the well, brush and jet, do whatever it takes to clean that well properly if you did get actual, physical particles in there. Most wells are required to have vents in the lid and things like that, or given technically, if you had a flood, who knows, you could have knocked the whole cap off. Things like that do happen, so you may still need to find contractors, we’re valuable resources. Annie. I use in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, some of the states I address, I use EPA’s guidelines. They have two of ’em on the website, and one of them is well disinfection. The other one is a guideline for what to do after a flood. And being where I am in Tennessee, that has worked great, because we have been flooded three times in 10 years. So, with that, the well people that I’m working with presently, whenever we have bad results, they want to shock chlorinate or chlorinate their wells. I go out and assist ’em, walk ’em through it, and make sure that they followed all the steps. And try to stay there with them, because the drillers in Tennessee want to charge $3,000 to $5,000 to come out and clean a well. We can’t get the drillers in Tennessee to come to the table to talk to us. They wanna diagnose water without all the critical test. And we’re having big issues in Tennessee, and I’d like to figure out a way to get the drillers to the table, but it’s not working. Sounds like I might be retiring in Tennessee. I would be amazed if you can’t get Lloyd Watson to come talk to you in Tennessee. Who’s Lloyd Watson? There you go. Go look up Lloyd Watson. Well, I’m in Central… Most of my work is Central Tennessee, and I don’t know where he’s located at. I don’t know specifically either, but… That I’m working with, and doing the area that I’m working, refuses to work with us. Okay, go ahead. So, just shifting the subject a little bit from testing and treatment, all the way back to making land use decisions around the well, protecting the water in the first place. And I’m curious how engaged as drillers you all are and your colleagues, your competition, if you have any sense at all of actually talking to these well owners about the land use choices they’re making around their well. When they’re pushing their tests at you and seeing, “Fail, fail, fail,” over and over again, instead of treatment systems, instead of drilling new wells, how often you talk to them about just adjusting their land uses? And I guess it’s a two part question, ’cause I’m curious how engaged you think your industry might be in being engaged in that teaching about land use decisions around well, and if you think that you’re a receptive audience to participating in educational programs yourselves to help deliver those messages, ’cause that’s some of the stuff that we work with. We come from the land of no well regulations at all. Pennsylvania? Yes, Pennsylvania. Well, I recently talked a horse farm owner into moving their horse pen, ’cause I told them that having the well in the middle of the horse pen was probably not the best place to have it located. So you’ve got… It’s kind of a tricky… It is a tricky conversation to have because number one, if they don’t like the answers you give them, they’re just gonna find someone else who will give them the answers that they like. So, I don’t know that it necessarily falls under the contracting community to deliver that message, trying to educate what’s happening, why it could negatively impact their water. I think those are the areas that I try to primarily focus on when talking to owners and what they’re doing around their wells, and what might be impacting. You need to move, you’d like it here in Illinois. Where he was just talking about the farm pens, and things like that, they don’t allow wells in farm pens anymore. You got to stay so many feet away from… Any new pen, any new well? Well, yeah. Existing wells… There are wells in pens in Illinois. Yes, if it’s a new well. But you have to stay so many feet away from that. Now, they’re going by and saying that if it’s a barn that may at some point in time hold horses or cattle, just because it has the capability now, they want you to stay so many feet away from that. So certain ones in my local health departments are now doing that. So there’s a whole list of things that we have to look for, stay away from, make sure that’s the first thing… When anybody calls me up, a home owner, and says, “Well, how do you figure out where to put the well? Do you come out and you witch it? Or you do this yet?” No, there’s a whole list of things my health department says I can’t do and that usually tells me which three sides of your house I can’t go on, and that leaves me the one side I can go on. And then I got to ask other things like, “Okay, well. You going to do geothermal? Are you putting that in? Are you putting this in?” Usually by the time the septic, the geothermal and I go in, we all take a different corner of the house and do a big triangle so it’s… That’s basically how you get to place a well is it’s not… In Illinois, it’s basically where you can’t go first, and then that leaves the small circle that you can go. Speaking from the drillers perspective, how willing do you believe drillers would be to hand out a one pager with information for the landowner, or the well owner, on maintenance, and testing sources, and land use options nearby, and that sort of thing? Just being that outlet for the education, since they seem to go to you anyway. Are you guys the one with the private checklist on the the wellowner.org or whatever. That little three page thing that… No, wellowner.org is NGWA. Oh, that’s NGWA. NGWA, if it’s well owner, they have an interesting, if it’s what I’m thinking it is. They have an interesting three page pamphlet that actually talks about what the, for the prospective well owner, the new well owner. What it is, what different parts of the well is. Gives you a checklist on things as to how to pick different good contractors in your area. And then also a little check list on different maintenance items and things like that that you should look for. Is your casing cracked? Is your cap still on? Is your conduit still attached? Is the ground around your well subsiding? Is it holding water? Things that every year you should look at to make sure that these are items that basically it’s your own private entity and your own private water supply you should look at; we try to hand those out every time that we drill a new well, put ’em in a packet with the invoices and things like that as to, “Here it is, this is basically something to look at every year so that you guys can monitor your own situation and be better informed.” Yeah, Iowa has the same, similar deal, booklet. I mean, it’s a lot of that too, how to pick a contractor and just little things to look for. I mean I know there’s probably not as many booklets missing in the state as there are wells being drilled, but there’s more and more of the absentee well owner of, the livestock building of so and so investor who lives in town and owns the property and hires a well driller and he doesn’t want to do anything but write the check for the livestock building when he’s done and do the investments. So sometimes there’s… You don’t really know who should be seeing it, because he’s going to throw it away and the person operating the building might not say that it falls into their category, but yeah. To me, from a business side of it, the liability of somebody having a paper that I can hand out, that’s great. I mean, if there’s information that didn’t necessarily come from me but represents me and it helps me maintain professionalism and educate ’em, then I’d say, if you would write it people will hand it out. I would say there’s a willingness to to do that, absolutely. Kelsey. Last one. Last question. Back to flooding, just because it’s been happening in a couple of states. Considering wells that have good integrity, not missing caps or grouting issues, and it gets submerged, how much water would you think would be going down into the well? ‘Cause some of the drillers I’ve been talking to on the East Coast kinda say that these systems are sealed and that submerging it without integrity issues isn’t as problematic as we think. So I was curious of your perspective on that. Yeah, I think that every aquifer’s a little bit different. I know these shallow alluvial aquifers at some of the river bottoms. I’ve sometimes seen before the flood comes the well’s running over. So sometimes there’s an elevated water level going on. So there might be times they’re not taking on much water, but again most of the time we’re trying to… Short of levies breaking and things like that. In Iowa, our code would be our well termination has to be above the highest known flood. So you drive into some of those areas and wonder, “What in the world?” and that’s usually why. I’ve got wells that are 10 feet tall up to the eave’s spout of the person’s house, and you’re sitting there saying, “What’s up with that?” And normally, again, all these flood situations, the person that you’re going out and chlorinating, my first suggestion is, soon as you’ve get this dealt with, elevate your casing. It has to help. The downside is your neighbor’s well next door that maybe’s not grouted or maybe not elevated, it’s an older well in a pit, it’s back to you gotta protect it everywhere, everytime it starts at the source if you can. And I’d certainly say we run across a lot more wells that are properly constructed but they have never replaced the rubber seal and it’s 15 years old, so how sealed is it really? Most of them aren’t. Who replaces the rubber seals on their well cap? Right? Good point. No one does. I would ask too, is the system on or off? Is it operating? If it can turn on and start pumping at that point in time, it’s gonna draw a vacuum, it’s gonna draw water into it no matter what you do, so if it’s in a flooded situation and it’s still operational, one of the first things I always tell my customers if they call me up and say, “My well’s flooded,” I say, “Tell ’em to shut it off.” I say, “Shut it off, go buy bottled water, don’t use it, wait until the flood subsides, then let’s start using it. Pump it out and let’s see what we can.” At that point in time you just don’t wanna operate that system, when it’s got water over the top of it. The cynical side of me would say that a flood is the perfect time to finally get around to servicing that well that you’ve been meaning to service for the last 10 years. All right, we’re at our break, so you have 15 minutes, we’ll just start five minutes late, give everybody the full 15. So be back at 3:35. Thank you, you guys. Great job.

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