A Detour to a Drilling Demo
Those of you who are regular readers of this column are aware that I sometimes get on a multi-issue subject and then take a detour. That’s what I am going to do as I write this and not complete my series on pitless adapters just yet. This is written on almost the middle of the month of June and yesterday I attended an interesting and informative drilling demonstration plus a pump installation demonstration. Some of you may say, “Can an old guy like you still learn something?” And the answer is, “Yes.” So here is a short report on these demos.
The demos were held near Lansing, Mich., at the headquarters of a well known supply house chain. This supply company has three locations in Michigan and one in Indiana. At the request of the senior management of this organization I am not using their business name.
Attendees at this demonstration were drilling contractors, pump installation contractors, and regulators and field inspectors from both our Department of Environmental Quality and local health departments. In Michigan, inspections and quality assurance of small capacity wells are the responsibility of these LHDs, or local health departments. Larger capacity wells are inspected mainly by our DEQ staff members. I was told that almost 100 persons made reservations to attend yesterday and about 80 actually did. The weather, light rain showers almost all day with a heavy downpour in the early afternoon, did not contribute to a large crowd, although temperatures were quite pleasant — unlike the day before when high temps and very high humidity made it unpleasant in southern Michigan.
The main focus of the demonstration was to drill a 5-inch PVC-cased well, install the casing, grout it using several materials and, as part of the program, run a down-the-hole camera into the casing, at least some of which was clear PVC. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the owner of the camera did not allow its use — most likely as a concern for the monitor being used in a rainstorm. The well was drilled to a depth of about 80 feet and finished in the bedrock with a screen also installed. Grouting was accomplished by pumping assorted materials by a tremie pipe run down the annular space between the casing and the borehole. Grout was mixed in a commercial grout machine and both concrete and bentonite grouts were placed down the hole, plus a small amount of pea gravel added to the mix. The drill rig was a mud rotary owned by a major manufacturer of drill rigs. It looked to me to be plenty powerful for this rather shallow drilling, and it worked well and drilled through some cobbles and boulders encountered on the way to final depth. The rig was operated by two brothers, Brock and Chad Yordy. Brock is employed by the drill rig manufacturer and Chad by a major bentonite manufacturer. These brothers got their start drilling for the family business — Yordy Well Drilling at Decatur, Mich., in the southwest part of the state. They were assisted by two drillers from a local contractor who also provided the necessary water truck, grout plant and a flat bed with a heavy hoist mounted behind the truck cab.
The second part of the demonstration was to install a pitless adapter on a previously drilled water well that was cased with 5-inch PVC. A clamp-on type unit was used and a pump was installed in this well, although the pump was not fired up. A modern and typical truck-mounted pump hoist was used to install the pump and both the pump installation and the drilling operation appeared to be of great interest to the inspectors present. Some of these folks are new to our industry and many had questions, some of which were a bit difficult to answer. A common comment was that the demonstrations were very good, we just need more of them.
The sponsoring supply house also invited a number of their vendors to set up table-top displays and one pump company had a very extensive display all built up and mounted in an enclosed trailer. Also displaying was at least one other major pump company, two major tank companies, a pitless adapter manufacturer whose product is widely used in Michigan, plus a well known well screen company and the major bentonite manufacturer. Canopies were provided, which were great for getting out of the rain and a very nice free lunch was served to all present with seating at tables under the canopies. Tasty hot sandwiches with all the trimmings, plus some great chocolate chip cookies, made up the menu.
While talking to a young lady who has worked quite a few years at inside sales for this supply chain, I was struck by a comment she made. Her late father was a water well contractor whom I knew quite well and her grandfather was a contractor also. Her statement was, “You know, John, we’re all in the same business whether we are contractors, supply house folks, manufacturers or inspectors, and we are all working to provide good safe water to our customers.” I think she had a really great point and a very valid one. We all are trying to accomplish the same thing and are all part of a great industry. Unfortunately, there are a very few “knot heads” at every level of our industry. It was nice to see a large turnout at this event and I understand this supply house has hosted nearly 400 contractors and regulators at five events like this held this year. I was told that subjects included drilling, pump and tank sizing for both large and small installations, muds and grouting, motor controls and water conditioning — certainly an impressive list of subjects. I congratulate them for their efforts in sponsoring these seminars and demonstrations.
If you get the idea that I enjoyed myself at this demonstration, you are right. I saw and talked to many old friends and met a few people whom I’m sure will become my friends for the very first time. If you are not having demonstrations like this where you work, talk to a supply house about hosting one or perhaps work with your state groundwater association. They are worth the effort.
Having gotten a little long winded, which I tend to do, I will not do my usual weather report and just wish you the best and hope your tomorrow is better than today.
For more John Schmitt columns, visit www.nationaldriller.com/schmitt.