This month's "For Openers" column.

Disaster Relief

As with most everyone else, our thoughts and prayers are with the people who are having to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The enormity of the effects from this disaster are such that it will be years before they even can be measured fully, let alone dealt with to completion. At this writing, people still are looking for missing relatives and friends, so it would be beyond crass to casually discuss comparatively trivial matters such as short- and long-term impacts on business for area drilling contractors and suppliers. There will be plenty of opportunities to deal with that at a more appropriate time.

What's more important at this time is to help those in need to the best of our abilities. A surprise to no one, the drilling and water industries have stepped up big time. The number of individuals, companies and organizations that are contributing in big ways is a testament to the character of the folks in our industry. But it's merely coincidence that the problems are water-related.

On a decidedly regrettable note, too many politicians, activists and carpetbaggers are unable to control their narrow-minded, opportunistic ways, and they're using the suffering of others as capital to promote their self-serving agendas.

But knowing the folks in our industries, sending equipment, supplies, money and manpower isn't about public relations or being a hero in others' eyes. It's not because it's water-related; it's not because we're dealing with American citizens. It's about human beings. That's a core value at its most basic. If there's any group that consistently demonstrates that it lives and breathes core values, it's the drilling industry, and we're very proud to play our role in it.

Please visit www.redcross.org to find out the latest on the situation and how you can help.

Three Happy Anniversaries

You're looking at the 25th Anniversary issue of National Driller. We've all come a long way since 1980, and it's always fun to have a look back and reminisce about the good times (which, with the passing of time, now seem even better) and the not-so-good times (now not quite as bad). And while a wistful look back can conjure warm memories, it also provides the impetus to look forward - which is good because that's where our future is (sorry, Yogi). I recently had a wonderful (as per usual) conversation with industry veteran John Schmitt about the past 25 years in the industry; check out excerpts. Also, Porky's column addresses this proud milestone.

Also happily celebrating a significant anniversary (its 20th) is Numa, manufacturer of hammers and bits for vertical, horizontal, reverse circulation and specialty drilling.

And marking its 15th year in business is Dave Hanson's Design Water Technologies. Known for conquering iron bacteria, the firm is setting its sights on coliform.

Our New Look

Coinciding with our 25th anniversary is a redesign of the magazine. Nothing too drastic - just an updated look, if you will. Please let us know what you think, what you like or what you'd like to see done differently.

Safety Issues Stressed

Todd Bromley (H.A.D. Drilling Contractors, Rittman, Ohio) writes:

Although I find your article (“The Geothermal Industry Beckons,” Aug. 2005) very informative and, for the most part, well written, I cannot believe that you would publish pictures (especially on the cover) that show a blatant disregard for safety - no hardhats, no hearing protection, no safety glasses, a helper in the trench holding onto the drill while in operation - and that is just what is obvious from the photos. I would expect that responsible reporting would demand that these practices not be allowed to continue and, in order to promote safety to our industry, National Driller would not publish pictures of this nature in the future.

We appreciate Mr. Bromley's concerns about safety on the job; there is nothing more important, and we promote safe working practices on a regular basis. And while we like to present the industry in the best possible light, we also reflect real-world conditions. We'll continue to do all we can to promote jobsite safety. Ideally, we're striving for the day when there are no safety violations on the job, thereby eliminating the chance that any photos of such to be published. On the in-between, we hope all drilling contractors take safety to heart as sincerely as Mr. Bromley does.

Supplier Certification

The National Ground Water Association has launched its newest certification program - Ground Water Systems Sales Specialist (GWSSS) - aimed at persons working for ground water industry suppliers.

The new certification program allows suppliers to demonstrate their knowledge in key troubleshooting areas and skills related to drilling operations and water systems. It also signifies their commitment to professionalism and good customer service.

To earn GWSSS designation, a supplier owner, supervisor or employee must pass a multiple-choice exam with a score of 70 percent or better. To take the exam, candidates must be at least 21 years old and have 24 consecutive months of employment specific to water systems and drilling operations.

To learn more about the GWSS program, visit www.ngwa.org/certification/supplier/cfm or call the National Ground Water Association's customer service department at 800-551-7379. To schedule an exam, telephone 800-211-2754.
ND