Hidden Opportunities for Learning and Collaboration

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Never pass up an opportunity to be the groundwater professional.

By Michael J. Schnieders, PG, PH-GW

I received a call several months back from a sanitarian in a nearby county.

The sanitarian, charged with environmental health for their county, was seeking guidance on a shallow groundwater issue. A septic system installer had encountered water at 2 feet below the ground surface. From the information presented, it sounded like the back-hoe operator had encountered a small, perched aquifer. The sanitarian and the installer were both shocked and confused by this occurrence. In an effort to stem the flow, the hole was re-packed with clay and the system’s location moved to another site on the property.

Aside from changes in the geology, aquifers, and topography, each of us likely encounters a myriad of governing regulations and ordinances within our area of operation. Municipal, county, state, tribal, and federal laws, as well as a host of other special circumstances, can influence the work we do and guide (or frustrate) the decisions we make.

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