Have you taken the time to educate your customer on the proper care and maintenance of their new resource?
By Michael J. Schnieders, PG, PH-GW
Think of the big purchases you make in your daily life: Car, washing machine, hot water tank, or even the roof. Now, think about your company and purchases made for work: laptop computer, coffee pot, drill rig, etc.
When we look at these purchases or are asked to comment on expenditures, we weigh the cost versus the expected service life as part of the decision-making process. We look at potential maintenance needs and replacement costs. This information helps to project a value and assign a service life to said item.
How often have you seen this applied to a well?
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Granted, some municipalities, especially in the west, are beginning to look at this, but a far greater number don’t. Even fewer homeowners will ask about the lifespan of a new well in their backyard, but, whether it is serving one home or a thousand, that well is vital to the needs of the community.
Selling the System
When designing a new well or treating an existing well, we need to evaluate what role that structure fills as part of the “system”—and take into account the myriad of factors that will impact and be impacted by the well.
If we, as the groundwater professionals, do not educate our customers and assist them in making the right decisions in the design, construction, and maintenance of their well, are we not failing in our role?
Are we choosing the right materials? Will any deviation from our normal procedure hinder or alleviate treatment concerns, either at the surface, or downhole? Have we constructed the well in a manner that allows treatment, modification, or improvements in the future? Have we accounted for changes to the landscape, watershed, subsurface? And not just in the foreseeable future, but 25 years or more down the road?
And most importantly, have we taken the time to educate our customer on the proper care and maintenance of their new resource?
A New Landscape
We cannot simply perform the same work for the same discount price anymore. We cannot wash our hands of what happens after we leave a site. We have a responsibility as the groundwater professional to construct the best well and provide the owner with the knowledge and tools to maintain that resource.
Looking back at our own big purchases, how often are we asked about interest in an extended warranty? Or a maintenance service plan? How many different instruction manuals come with a printer nowadays? Why not apply that same level of interest to a well—is it not more vital to life than a flat screen TV?
Some of the factors that should drive maintenance concerns are the use of the well, changes in water quality, operation and treatment of the pump, changes in operating costs, taste, odor, or discoloration. Active monitoring of the system coupled with periodic evaluation of the customer’s needs can help the decision-making process.
When properly constructed and maintained, a well can be a long-serving resource for the home and community. However, when neglected and run-to-failure, it can become a burden and ongoing challenge.
Michael J. Schnieders, PG, PH-GW, is a professional geologist currently serving as the principle hydrogeologist and president of Water Systems Engineering Inc. in Ottawa, Kansas. Schnieders’ primary work involves water resource investigation and management, specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of fouled well systems. Schnieders was the 2017 McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer in Water Well Technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.[/restrict]