Why YOU Should Attend Groundwater Week

There are countless reasons you should participate in the virtual event.

By Ed Butts, PE, CPI

This month’s Engineering Your Business column will divert from the normal technical, business, or personal themes I generally write about, as this contribution touches on NGWA’s upcoming Groundwater Week 2020.

Although I originally wrote a column with the same title 15 years ago when the Groundwater Expo and Annual Meeting was held in Cobb County, Georgia, the need to repeat one’s self cannot be ignored. Therefore, the theme and title for this month’s column is the same, but if I was being completely appropriate would call it: Why YOU should attend NGWA Groundwater Week 2020 next month although it will be held virtually.

While Groundwater Week has always been held in person and typically attracts thousands of attendees from across the world, restrictions on mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic led to the decision to move to a virtual format.

However, this doesn’t mean there is nothing to be gained by you attending via computer this year. Note the emphasis on the word “you” and observe this doesn’t mean your competitor so you can take some of his work away while he and his crew attend. The smart competitors are actually already planning to attend.

It also doesn’t apply to your kid, the one who has been working alongside you these past few years. Nor does it apply to your Grandma. No, in this case this invitation is for YOU, and you alone.

No Excuses

I’ve heard all the tired reasons why you can’t participate in Groundwater Week this year. Heck, I’ve used many of them myself over the years. You can’t go because: you have too much work to do; you don’t have enough work to do; you can’t afford it; you can afford it but would rather actually go to Las Vegas; your wife is sick; your kid is sick; your cat is sick; your mother-in-law is sick; you won’t get anything out of it.

The simple fact of the matter is we can always talk ourselves out of or into anything. However, what you should be doing is asking this: “What will I gain by attending Groundwater Week this year?”

So now give me a minute to tell you. All you really need to do is go online and look over the agenda; there is simply something for everyone. Groundwater Week 2020 will feature numerous opportunities to maximize the virtual experience. Among these opportunities, all attendees will be able to:

  • Explore products, technologies, and services from exhibitors in the virtual exhibit hall.
  • Learn about industry advances by virtually attending any one or number of informational sessions.
  • Choose from more than 50 hours over four days of educational workshops designed to increase job performance, provide information on new product and technological advancements, and provide needed valuable educational credits towards maintaining your NGWA certification or license.
  • Gain valuable insight regarding future industry trends.
  • Network with old friends.
  • Raise money to support the groundwater industry through supporting NGWA.
  • Do all of this from the comfort of your home or office!

Something for Everyone

Do you need to escape the cold weather for a week? Getting off a cold rig for a week while setting your feet in front of a nice warm fire can’t be beat. Groundwater Week always offers numerous technical workshops covering a variety of critical topics.

The selection is always diverse, covering topics such as drilling fluids and additives, well sealing, well servicing, and well rehabilitation for drillers to water quality and treatment and three-phase motor protection for the pump installers in the group.

In addition, workshops in business management, accounting practices, safety, government regulations on PFAS, and dealing with OSHA offer vitally important and up-to-date information for business owners.

For those of you who wish to test your knowledge, raise your professional status, and gain the respected designation of “Certified by NGWA,” workshops will be offered in all drilling and pump classifications toward gaining this important distinction.

The popular Groundwater Summit will also be held concurrently with Groundwater Week this year, and virtually as well. The Summit will focus on the latest in technical research and knowledge, offer topics ranging from emerging contaminants and groundwater remediation to sustainability and water quality, plus anything and everything in between.

Finally, numerous speakers will address topics of importance to all in the groundwater industry. All in all, as I indicated before, there is truly something for everyone.

And There’s More

Beyond the workshops and sessions, opportunities abound in other venues. Without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of the meetings and conventions I attend are the exhibits. To me, this is where I feel I can get a leg up on my competition.

The new products displayed in the virtual exhibit hall as well as the information obtained from the manufacturers’ representatives can provide you with countless competitive advantages as you may be able to easily determine an obvious connection between one of the products and that certain project you just couldn’t make work.

Later, you can apply this newfound knowledge or product to that problem and leave your competitors in the dust—especially since he won’t be able to get the well working to settle the dust! I cannot begin to count the number of times I have returned from a past Groundwater Week or technical workshop and quickly been able to apply some of the knowledge I gained from that attendance.

Additionally, don’t forget the numerous networking options available during the many virtual opportunities. The exchange of knowledge usually passed around during these events is often more valuable than any information you could ever gain by simply attending a workshop.

Another key aspect of virtually attending Groundwater Week may sound like it doesn’t apply to you at first, but in time may become the most important reason of all. This is the need to support your profession with your simple attendance and by providing needed counsel.

Your voice, even that single lone voice in the wilderness, may be the one that is most needed to help guide the future and course of our profession. Although you may think your contributions to NGWA to be minor, limited to yearly membership renewal dues, always ask where would we be if everyone felt that way?

Government would be running over us at every turn (yes, worse than they already do) and cities throughout the country would be banning private wells. Your experience, knowledge, and talents are always needed on a local, state, and national level to help establish policy and provide guidance for the future direction of your organization and your profession, which is critical to ensure its long-term survival.

Finally, the last reason to virtually attend the upcoming Groundwater Week may seem trivial, but trust me is as important as any other reason I previously cited. You need a break!

Those of us in this profession work hard. Workdays 16 to 18 hours long during the so-called season and always worrying about keeping money coming in and out of the business can be the norm. It can also have a profound effect on our health and lives.

The impacts of these long days accumulate in stress, headaches, relationship difficulties, premature gray hair, and other ways—take it from someone who knows. The impacts on me finally convinced me that we humans are social creatures in need of play and rest as much as any need for work or purpose.

You, my friend, are no different. You, too, need some time away from the day-to-day grind and working environment we have all become too accustomed to, even if it’s at home with your family. This has been such a bad year in so many ways, from the pandemic to wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and finally, the nasty election. The only thing left is the plague.

So, delegate your work plans for December 8-11 to a trusted subordinate. Then clear your schedule, register for Groundwater Week 2020, warm up the computer, and maybe even give time off to a special employee or two so they can also attend. Trust me, you and your profession will be better for it.

Until next month, work safe and smart.

Check Out Groundwater Week Website for Latest Updates and Information
The National Ground Water Association has a website exclusively for information about Groundwater Week 2020 to find updates to the educational sessions as well as details on everything happening at the industry’s premier event. Click to visit the website.

Ed Butts, PE, CPI, is the chief engineer at 4B Engineering & Consulting, Salem, Oregon. He has more than 40 years of experience in the water well business, specializing in engineering and business management. He can be reached at epbpe@juno.com.