Roaring Back

Groundwater Week 2022 returned to Las Vegas for the first time since the pandemic and drew its second largest show ever.

By Mike Price

Exhibitors were spread out over 78,100 square feet of exhibit space, the second most in NGWA convention history.

A busy year for many in the groundwater industry was punctuated by attending one of the largest Groundwater Week events in the history of the National Ground Water Association.

Groundwater Week 2022, which was held December 6-8 in Las Vegas, Nevada, saw 6464 attendees take part, making it the second largest show in Association history. The 74th annual show drew attendees from 36 countries and all 50 states. It was the first time the event was in Las Vegas since 2019.

The largest convention took place in 2006 when there were 6612 attendees.

“Groundwater Week 2022 will go down as one of the most successful shows in NGWA history and we could not have done it without the support of the entire industry,” says NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC.

“From exhibitors to presenters, attendees, and staff, everyone put in a tremendous effort to make this show successful and I cannot thank them enough. It’s a great reminder of what we can accomplish as an industry when we’re all working together, and we can’t wait to see everyone in 2023.”

Attendees took in more than 50 hours of educational offerings and visited 282 exhibitors—including 40 first-time companies—on a packed Exhibit Hall floor. There was a total of 78,100 square feet of exhibit space, the second most in NGWA convention history.

Attendees took in more than 50 hours of educational offerings with many of the workshops packed with attendees even standing along the back and sides of the rooms.

Groundwater Week collocated with the Irrigation Association for the third time and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association had a pavilion for the second consecutive year in the Exhibit Hall, meaning there were more than 10,000 water professionals in Las Vegas throughout the week.

“In 23 years of attending and exhibiting at NGWA, this is the best show we have had by far,” says Nicolas Steverlynck of Hose Solutions Inc. “We had an amazing show, and the Speedy Pump Puller was a great hit and really had a lot of heads turning.”

The Exhibit Hall has long been known for showcasing the groundwater industry’s newest head-turning technology, and 2022 didn’t disappoint.

Many exhibitors introduced new products to the market for the first time, including Mudslayer Manufacturing. The company debuted its new track-mounted drill rig, the Odin 200, which can be a one-man operation rig if it is necessary.

“My whole philosophy behind this is to make it where one or two men can go out with one water truck and the drilling system and mud system on one trailer and do most any job you want to do—200 feet or 300 feet deep,” says Jim LaPorte, owner of Mudslayer in Guthrie Center, Iowa.

William Alley, Ph.D. (right) signed copies of his latest book, The Water Recycling Revolution, for attendees.

TDH Manufacturing debuted its Aqua Flows Rig Tender. The new design allows for more storage while offering three models to choose from: 1500-gallon, 2000-gallon, and 2500-gallon tank options.

TDH President Scott Moser and his team in Rhome, Texas, worked on the Aqua Flows Rig Tender for more than a year. He was pleased with the feedback and is motivated to continue developing designs or technological upgrades that he believes will help water well contractors be more successful.

Flomatic Valves featured various valve products and answered a variety of questions, including ones about break-off plugs to Spanish-speaking attendees.

“Our water well experts were honored to connect with so many individuals and industry leaders within the industry,” says Nick Farrara, president of Flomatic Valves in Glens Falls, New York. “Our partnership runs deep with NGWA, and we are proud to share our ongoing support for groundwater professionals.”

• • •

Top-notch industry experts presented workshops on timely subjects affecting the water well industry, like “Air Drilling Best Practices,” “Energy-Based Hazard Identification,” and “Water Well Decommissioning/Sealing” just to name a few.

For the first time, attendees earned their continuing education units (CEUs) by having the QR code on their badge scanned by a staff member before entering the workshop.

“We definitely experienced increased foot traffic after our classes,” says LaTisha Shipman of Drilling Equipment Resources in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who presented the “All Things Hammers and Bits” workshop. “There were people who made a point to stop by to discuss issues they were having, and I would say primarily that was the topic—troubleshooting—discussing some bit failures and what could be the cause, bit identification, and hammer part identification.

McEllhiney Lecturer Fred Rothauge, CWD (right) was introduced by Marvin F. Glotfelty, RG, the 2012 lecturer, before his inaugural presentation.

“I had many inquiries on some of the products I mentioned in my slides about prolonging bit and hammer life, such as the inline oiler, bit sharpening systems, and DTH shock absorbers, as well as bit retrieval systems.

“I’m very excited about the future of our industry even though we all know there are struggles to overcome, such as finding new help, succession planning, etc., but I believe overall the industry is strong and united. I’ve been working in this industry for over 20 years
and it’s encouraging to see the drillers come together to form friendships and help each other. I think various social media groups have played a huge part in building morale within the industry and among drilling professionals.”

The popular Water Well Guys Facebook group had its own exhibit space where contractors who previously only interacted online with each other were able to meet in-person for the first time. A banner hung over their exhibit space that read “Building the Next Generation of Water Well Professionals.”

A total of 282 exhibitors were busy interacting with attendees from all around the world. Attendees hailed from 36 countries and all 50 states.

“The networking opportunity and camaraderie at the show—favorite part about Vegas,” says Jacob Singley, a fourth-generation owner/operator of Singley Drilling Inc. in Lewiston, Montana, who represented the company at the show for the first time since the late 1970s, early 80s.

“As far as we are aware, we are the oldest water well company in Montana. Our company will celebrate 112 years in April. The workshops that I attended were all great. I especially enjoyed the workshop about protecting profits and upgrading equipment. That is currently the phase our business is in and focusing on. It was good to hear things that we are currently doing along with other ideas and practices to implement in the business.”

Groundwater Week 2022 By the Numbers
  • 6464 attendees (2nd largest attendance)
  • 282 exhibiting companies, including 20 exhibitors in the second-ever International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Geothermal Pavilion
  • 40 first-time exhibiting companies
  • 2633 water well system professionals (4th largest attendance)
  • 1464 manufacturers (6th largest attendance)
  • 688 suppliers (6th largest attendance)
  • 375 scientists and engineers (23rd largest attendance)
  • 36 countries represented and all 50 states
  • 78,100 square feet of exhibit space (2nd most)
  • 213 delegates voted at the NGWA Delegates Meeting
  • ≈ $30,000 raised by The Groundwater Foundation through the Sapphire Club
  • 841 attendees from Texas, most of any state
  • 24th time Groundwater Week was held in Las Vegas.

• • •

Jason House, LG, PG (right) accepts the president’s gavel from Brian Snelten, PG. House is the second president from the NGWA Scientists and Engineers Section.

The Groundwater Foundation’s 2023 McEllhiney Lecture Series in Water Well Technology kicked off with Fred Rothauge, CWD, presenting “Are We Creating Long-Term Groundwater Assets or Just Installing Wells?

“Groundwater Week 2022 proved to be full of optimism and excitement as attendance was not only up with overall attendance, but the class sizes showed that attendees were there to learn,” Rothauge says. “That gave me encouragement looking forward to what’s to come for 2023. I believe that if we continue to grow educational opportunities at Groundwater Week and through NGWA University, we can instill pride
and the desire for better choices to those entering the groundwater industry as well as those who are more seasoned and who desire to be better at their job.

“My favorite part was running into all the friends and colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from over the past 40 years and seeing how this industry has served them and sharing my journey with them.”

Arthur Robinson, program manager for the Montana Board of Water Well Contractors in Helena, Montana, sat in on the lecture and believed younger drillers could stand to benefit from it too. Rothauge was scheduled to present the lecture to the Montana Water Well Drillers Association in February.

“I hope it makes an impact and impression on the newer drillers,” Robinson says. “I want to use younger drillers. They seem to be more of a challenge.”

Tours Go Behind the Scenes at the Fountains of Bellagio
Say “Las Vegas” to anyone and it doesn’t take long for the Fountains of Bellagio to come to mind. After all, the musical water show has entertained countless tourists several times a day with water blasting hundreds of feet into the air since 1998.

Nearly 100 groundwater professionals got to go behind the scenes to find out how it’s done at Groundwater Week 2022. Three sold-out tours went below the casino and resort and were led on a guided tour by members of the Bellagio staff that keeps the water flowing—and dancing.

Tour attendees look at the water filtration equipment used for the Fountains of Bellagio. r flowing—and dancing.

The show takes place on an 8.5-acre man-made lake in front of the casino that holds 22 million gallons of water. A team of 26 employees work shifts ranging between two to 10 hours every day to keep the shows on schedule.

The tour started in a huge room filled with filtration equipment that is still original. The Bellagio team then took tour attendees into a room with some of the barge-like equipment that goes out in the lake every day to skim it and make repairs to the 5000 underwater lights, 1006 shooters that fire the water into the air, and the 208 oarsmen that are in the lake.

The oarsmen, which move and shoot water, are built specifically for the fountain show and contain variable frequency drives. They were built to last five years, but the originals are still going strong today thanks to the staff working constantly on them and fabricating parts and equipment for them.

Also shown off were examples of the three types of shooters that are in the pond: mini, super, and extreme. The 16 extreme shooters blast water 460 feet high at 460 psi. Attendees were also wowed with what was left of a cap of an extreme shooter that had gotten blown off in an accident. The torn metal was a definite reminder of the power of water.

Finally, the attendees were led outside and took in one of the 35 programmed shows. It was explained that it takes two to three hours of programming to create one second of a performance and that a two- to three-minute song takes months of programming before it makes its debut.

The weather was pleasant for all three tours, and as attendees took in the show with new appreciation, what a guide told one tour was definitely evident: “I get paid too much to work on this when it’s nice in the summer. But in the winter when it’s cold, it’s not nearly enough!”

By Thad Plumley

Some new events debuted at Groundwater Week, including two designed to aid young and early-career groundwater professionals. There was a tour of the Exhibit Hall led by seasoned groundwater veterans explaining how the tools and machinery seen on the floor are used daily in the industry. There was also a coffee and continental breakfast where young people had a chance to meet and network with each other.

Dora Taggart (center) was presented the Technology Award, going to a person who has made a major contribution to the groundwater industry in the development of ideas and equipment.

The NGWA Delegates Meeting saw John Boyette Jr., CVCLD, of Boyette Well & Septic in Wilson, North Carolina, Buddy Sebastian of Sebastian & Sons Well Drilling Inc. in Springport, Michigan, and Rothauge of Hydro Resources Inc. in Fort Lupton, Colorado, elected to the NGWA Board of Directors.

Keynote speaker Rocky Bleier, a former Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers who is also a veteran of the Vietnam War, told the audience at the Keynote Presentation and NGWA Awards of Excellence Ceremony of his life story and how perseverance and teamwork
helped him achieve against all odds.

Long-time NGWA member David Henrich, CWD/PI, CVCLD, received the Ross L. Oliver Award amid a standing ovation. Henrich reminded attendees not to forget the value they bring and encouraged them to continue forward in these busy times. He also challenged them to make diverse friends so decisions can be more well founded.

Jason House, LG, PG, of Woodard & Curran Inc. in Portland, Maine, became the NGWA president, marking just the second time someone from the NGWA Scientists and Engineers Section has served as president.

NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC, addresses attendees at Groundwater Week. There were a total of 6464 attendees at Groundwater Week 2022, the second most in Association history.

House, who received the gavel from Past President Brian Snelten, PG, spoke of teamwork as well in his acceptance speech at the NGWA Delegates Meeting.

“Whatever we face in 2023—the economy, finding qualified employees, or regulatory challenges—our members are resilient, and I look forward to working with them and our board members,” House says. “Working together with all our membership sections, there is no problem we can’t solve.”

Groundwater Week 2023 Will Again Be in Las Vegas
Celebrate NGWA’s 75th anniversary with friends and colleagues at Groundwater Week 2023, which will take place December 5-7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association’s Geothermal Pavilion will also be in the tradeshow for the third straight year.

Registration is now open at GroundaterWeek.com.

Workshop submissions can be submitted beginning on March 1 at GroundwaterWeek.com. The deadline to submit a workshop is May 15.

For more information about the Groundwater Week 2023 workshop submissions, contact NGWA Education Program Manager Sue Tenney at stenney@ngwa.org.

For more information about the exhibition and sponsorship opportunities, contact Mark Mohanna at mkmohanna@ngwa.org.

In Case You Missed It
Groundwater Week 2022 registrants should have received a link to access the recordings of Groundwater Week workshops in NGWA’s Learning Center. From February 1-15, attendees will have access to any session  recording at no cost.

Following the two-week period, the recordings can be purchased for continuing education hours in the Learning Center. Please note not all sessions were recorded.


Mike Price is the senior editor of Water Well Journal. In addition to his WWJ responsibilities, Price contributes to the Association’s scientific publications. He can be reached at mprice@ngwa.org, or at (800) 551-7379, ext. 1541.

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