Our industry owes it to our clients to improve what we give them for records.
By Gary Shawver, MGWC, retired-2021
I recently completed a consulting job for a client where part of my consult was to assist in preparing specifications for them.
This client has a large wellfield and its wells that all periodically need maintenance. In assembling the specifications, I suggested the client provide the bidding contractors data on the wells they were to rehabilitate.
To my surprise, the owner had little data on many of the wells. I was frankly surprised by the lack of data.
While this client had been around for years and the wellfield had grown, the engineer and manager of the system were relatively new in the scheme of things. While the manager had come up through the system, his focus was not specifically the wells, and the engineer was relatively new to the client as well. Both were completely dedicated to doing their jobs in the best manner they could for their owner, now and over the long term.
With today’s technology, keeping well records more detailed is far easier than it was just a few years ago.
A Common Problem
But while I was somewhat surprised by the lack of data on the wells, this issue is not that uncommon.
With today’s technology, keeping well records more detailed is far easier than it was just a few years ago. Our industry owes it to our clients to improve what we give them for records and assemble them in a manner that is user friendly, easy to understand, and potentially beneficial to someone who has to follow in someone else’s footsteps.
All information on a well project should be recorded and documented, all the way from a basic construction record and well log to details of any and all issues encountered during construction.
One of the requirements for the specifications that I suggested was to submit a three-ring binder of all data collected during the well rehabilitation projects. This included but was not limited to the following:
- A binder with a front cover detailing the following:
-Date of construction, if known
-Date of rehabilitation
-Contractor completing the well rehabilitation
- A DVD of the pre-well rehabilitation
-A typewritten or keyed-in record of what was observed from the well rehabilitation
- Initial test pumping data prior to the rehabilitation process to include specific capacity, drawdown, and volume
- Daily detailed records of what was done each day during the rehabilitation to include the following (again typewritten or keyed in):
-Chemicals used, to include the amount and manufacturer of the chemicals
-Method of placement of those chemicals as well as how they were mixed
-All details of the time the chemicals were left in the well and method of agitation/development
-Any other methods of development that were used
-If a test pumping was done between treatments, and the specific capacity and drawdown
- Final test pumping after well rehab was completed with, again, specific capacity and drawdown
- Follow-up DVD of the well showing if a follow-up was done
- In addition, it was recommended that the contractor completing the project write an overview summarizing the well rehab and their opinions of the success of the rehab effort
- If there were water quality tests taken before and after the well rehabilitation, these should be included.
Preserving Invaluable Data
While much of this information is often submitted to the owners when the project is completed, the owner’s assembly and compilation of the data often gets lost in the shuffle.
That being said, the client/owner has the responsibility to assemble the details for future reference, but often does not understand why. Point out the data collected is invaluable should they decide to rehabilitate the well in the future.
A contractor consulting or bidding the well rehabilitation can review this data and make intelligent recommendations based on the past experience recorded. It may even point to the fact that the well is beyond rehabilitation and the owner needs to focus on a well replacement. But often the owner will not realize this.
Realize also that people and management change over time. The information a person who oversees a wellfield may have compiled in detail doesn’t always lend itself well to the person following in their footsteps. Written, detailed records are a must. And who better to assist their clients in assembling this than the contractor performing the work, as they understand it and know why it is necessary.
While I did not do well rehabilitation work when I was in the industry, I often did multiple wells for some larger clients. I knew these clients would not assemble the records in a manner that would be conducive to long-term storage, so I began assembling three-ring binders for each project. On a new well for example, I included in the binder the following:
- Cover as was outlined before, often with a photo on the front with our rig drilling the well
- Well log and construction record to include data where water was observed being produced during the construction and how much (assuming the contractor had the ability to ascertain this depending on the drilling method)
- Diagram of completed well with detail
- All submittals to include but not limited to the following:
-Casing with papers
-Well grouting report that was very detailed and included the following:
-If there was more than one pumping of grout—for example, if we had voids to fill because circulation was not achieved on the first grouting or if the grout settled after the first grouting
-Grout weight upon arrival to the site
-Grout weight when circulation was achieved
-Methods of placement, which may vary if there were subsequent groutings
– Grout level after the first and/or subsequent groutings
-If a grout shoe was used on the initial grouting
- Test pumping reports
-Some of the wells were pump and re-inject wells; therefore, we submitted the data collected when water was injected into the return wells—for example, the cone of inversion, or in some cases, what pressure was
required to re-inject
- Any water quality tests that were required or done
- Any televising of the well upon the completion of the construction (either DVD or thumb drive)
- A written overview by the contractor of any issues encountered during the well project.
While there are endless details that can be included in such a report binder as this, all that has been shown here is a sample of what can be done.
If the project was overseen by a consulting engineer, we often made three of these binders—one for the owner themself, one for the engineer, and one for our records. We often delivered these binders to the owner either in person or mailed them.
While it takes time to compile these binders for a project, most of the records you would complete yourself. But with computers and the technology to verbally record a written document, it is really quite simple even if you have limited keyboard skills.
The data you gather is expensive and the data you gather is invaluable to the future of the owner. While many contractors prefer to keep the data to themselves as opposed to potentially benefitting other contractors, realize that you as a contractor will not be around forever and you owe it to future generations to pass on any details of a project that could enhance the potential to avoid some of the pitfalls you might have encountered on a given project.
In addition, the information assembled can potentially someday help determine what to do with a given well should some type of problem occur.
While a three-ring binder may be considered old-fashioned by some in the industry, you can certainly do the same thing with a thumb drive and may wish to include one in a binder you give to your client. But those often get misplaced.
Regardless, if what you have done does get misplaced by the owner or engineer, you have at least done your part for your client and those who may follow after you in this industry.
Gary Shawver, MGWC, retired-2021, is vice president of Shawver Well Co. Inc. in Fredericksburg, Iowa. He has been in the water well industry for more than 40 years and is a Master Groundwater Contractor. He served on the NGWA Board of Directors. Shawver is semi-retired, having sold his business to his employees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.