In the Beginning

WWJ was a national bimonthly resource in its first decade of existence.

By Thad Plumley

This ad from Red Jacket in 1953 promoted new technology.

The Water Well Journal was born in an office in Illinois with an issue marked January-February 1947.

Originally the Illinois Well Driller and distributed by the Illinois Well Drillers Association, the name was changed to appeal to a wider audience and attract advertising from national manufacturers.

The move worked as distribution promptly doubled! Yes, WWJ Volume 1, Issue 1 was sent to 2000 groundwater professionals around the Midwest.

Early on, the final issues of the year were often festive.

Every journey starts with a single step, right? From that beginning, WWJ
stands today as an important industry resource with Volume 75, Issue 1 being delivered to 20,000 groundwater professionals in all 50 states and 29 nations dotting the globe.

WWJ was delivered six times a year for its first 10 years. It has since been
sent to its circulation every month. And while the size has shifted on occasion, the paper stock has changed countless times, the cover images are now glossy photos instead of drawings from a staff artist, one thing has remained: A commitment to better all those working in the groundwater market.

A rig from Franks Machine Works made the May-June 1950 cover.

Some of the first issues ever published had content focusing on professionalism. Issues in the early years discussed ensuring a profit. An article in 1953 focused on the critical relationship between contractors and engineers. Issues in the mid-1950s focused on new technology. At the time, the cutting edge was this submersible pump thing.

A favorite article of mine is titled “Running Water and Profit” in the May-
June 1949 issue. Authored by Water F. Deming of Deming Co. in Salem, Ohio, it is a condensed version of a radio broadcast presentation he gave during National Water Systems Month in May of that year.

A 1949 article promoted running water to farms as a revenue source.

It points out only one-third of farms at the end of 1948 had running water,
meaning four million farms in the country were still pumping water by hand or securing water from springs in buckets. Deming then adds power companies and rural cooperatives were adding 700,000 power connections a year, giving a whole lot of water well contractors a whole lot of opportunities to bring running water to those farms—and profit to their firms.

Originally a speech, the article laid out as the perfect business school lesson: Opportunity + Solution = Revenue.

What a start, WWJ!


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.