Support System for the Water Industry

by Lisa Allen Kennard

You’ve heard the old adage that proclaims, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither was the support system for well contractors, pump installers and associate entities. Here is a new saying to remember – “Water industry professionals needn’t stand alone.” In fact, look around. Your teammates are in the huddle with you.

Whether you’re a small company with one crew or large with multi-task teams, you have a support system at your fingertips. They are out there, ready for you to join their ranks – eager for you to take advantage of them. Local, state, regional and national, these organizations are member-friendly. They were formed for the water industry’s benefit. Fitting into your life snugly –like a drive shoe into bedrock—is their goal.

Paying dues where required opens doors to industry-honed support for water well drillers, pump installers and supply companies, both owners and employees. Yes, that’s right, the employees, too! After all, isn’t it just as important for your workers to be up to date on the industry’s current affairs? Employees are an employer’s most intimate support system; day in and day out, nearly 24/7/365.

Camaraderie among competition may seem foreign in an industry that continually attempts to underbid each other, but where it exists there are friendly contacts available during good times or emergency. The same way that teamwork applies to the well driller and his helper, so too should it apply between competitors. The saying, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” comes in handy when you’re faced with a broken down rig or service truck and the closest help is your rival-company.

Bringing educated industry-men together so all their talents combine into a balanced mixture should be a high priority. Just as you covet a perfect water test with a well-balanced concentration of minerals (within EPA limits), so too should you value the coming together of companies that mix and form a strong local support system.

Within your community there may be several well drilling companies, pump installers, plus multi-faceted suppliers. These entities need each other. Finding the right combination requires trial and error – a fitting together of puzzle pieces to form a complete team. In time, the give and take between these support-companies becomes natural. Like a marriage, these businesses anticipate each other’s needs and support you through thick and thin.

Strengths are heralded by recommendations to potential customers. Excess workloads are shifted from well to pump company and the paraphernalia required by both phases of the job are filled via your reliable suppliers. After years of working together trade contacts become friends. A next step is to see each other as individuals – not merely business associates.

Will-the-well driller, Pete-the-pump installer, and Steve-the-supplier might all show up at 7:00 a.m. at the local diner for breakfast. Pleasantries about health and family burst out like true artesian wells. Then you get down to business.

“It went deep,” Will the well driller states, sopping up egg yoke with his toast. “I’ve got a full schedule, Pete. You want to handle the pump?”

“Sure.” Pete smiles at the waitress who is filling his coffee cup. “What’s the data?” Having been filled in on the well, the pump installer turns to his supplier. He recites his order faster than a new drill bit cutting through soft ledge.

“Okay…got it…three of those?” Steve chicken-scratches the items down on a diner napkin. He grabs another to keep up with Pete’s order. “I’ll have these to you first thing tomorrow morning.”

Will tosses bills on the counter and rises. “See you boys at the Association meeting tonight?”

“I’ll be there,” Pete says, leaving a nice tip for his favorite waitress.

“Can’t. Truck’s in the shop – wife’s got the car tonight,” Steve complains.

“Want a ride?”

“Sure. Thanks, Will. I was looking forward to hearing the speaker talk about the new regs on pump installing. Even though I don’t install myself, I sell the supplies. I ought to keep up with the industry.” In the driveway he calls out to his two customer-friends as they head for their respective company trucks. “Have a good day.  Hope you hit it big, Will!”

That’s how local businesses support each other all across America. You have to get up pretty early to catch these die-hard workers eating breakfast, but catching them is worth the effort. That’s where a lot of work gets discussed and ordering is done. Referrals and teamwork are what keep this valued industry in-tuned to each other. This is how one hands-off the ball and the other ably picks it up and runs with it. In the end, all sectors of the industry win. Ultimately, customers benefit from honest teamwork. Be assured that they appreciate your efforts.

There are organizations that Will, Pete and Steve can join to provide them with industry support. One is their state’s Water Well Association. Hard workers just like them wash off mud and ‘clean up real nice’ to attend these meetings. Some gather quarterly – some more often. Topics of discussion range from new techniques for chlorinating wells, to regulation changes, to upcoming legislation regarding their field. If members have further concerns they are encouraged to present them.

If these men lived in New Hampshire they would be able to purchase a consumer awareness information pamphlet developed by the American Ground Water Trust, entitled When Citizens in New Hampshire Need a Water Well. The NH Water Well Association sponsors this booklet.

“The pamphlet is one of many prepared by the Trust for various state associations across the United States,” says Ground Water Specialist Garret Graaskamp, speaking for the American Ground Water Trust.

Members may purchase these sixteen-page pamphlets through their associations and distribute them to potential customers. It is a highly valued aid for educating the public regarding well-related topics, both environmentally and economically.

The American Ground Water Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization, located in Concord, NH. The mission of the Trust is to protect America’s ground water, promote public awareness of the environmental and economic importance of ground water and provide accurate information to assist public participation in water resources decisions.

By handing out this informative pamphlet (or referring them to the Trust’s website:, the well driller has a tool to educate prospective clients. It shows that your company cares and respects this valuable resource and isn’t just out to make a buck – no matter what the cost to the customer or the environment. That ethic-quality in your company could sway a job your way.  Well owners and consumers are important members in the Trust.

Not only can water well association members extract what they need, they should also give what they can. As with most organizations volunteerism is key to starting and maintaining a group. Elected leaders are people like you. The futures of some groups depend on volunteerism and are threatened by the lack of it.

Some might grumble, “I’m a well driller, not a public speaker. I can’t lead a meeting!”

However, some of the least likely men and women in this profession are stepping up to bat to aid their organizations – actually keeping them alive. Having a sense of humor helps. Experience in the field is a major plus! After years of attending meetings and seeing how they’re run, most members can escalate their role by ‘biting the bullet’ of timidity – trying and succeeding!

For example, Daniel and Jeffrey Tasker of Tasker’s Well Co., Inc. in New Hampshire were born into a well drilling business. While their father, Elmer D. Tasker, evolved from pounders to rotary rigs, as youths Dan and Jeff became submerged like pumps into the life of water well drilling.

Without balking –actually loving well drilling as much as young Jeff Taylor in Maryland—Jeff Tasker ate, slept and breathed the driller’s life. As a teen he worked weekends as a helper, learning his job from the region’s best.

In college, this second generation Tasker obtained a degree in business management in conjunction with learning the craft of drilling rock and developing gravel wells, at work. Now, many consider Jeff an expert at all three. For two-dozen years he’s labored hard during the day to provide customers with water. He comes home dog-tired after nightfall, filthy enough to make his wife, Diane, mutter. But he ‘cleans up real nice’ and now, instead of merely attending the New Hampshire Water Well Association meetings, he’s leading them. By unanimous vote Jeff Tasker is submerged into his second term as president.

“A well-run organization can mean the difference between casual nights out with the boys or tunnel-vision power meetings,” Jeff says.

He outlines the topics of old and new business with meticulous care. Aware of the need for contact hours in maintaining, for example, pump installer licenses, he and the other officers of the association’s board organize educational workshops. The Association sponsors these lectures. Its members are encouraged to attend.

The moral of this tale is: if Jeff Tasker, a progressive Yankee, can volunteer his talents and leadership to his state’s association, so can you! Your organization, no doubt, will be better off because you’ve stepped up to bat and become part of the valuable support team. Become an essential link in your industry-chain – volunteer!

It takes every Will, Pete and Steve’s attendance to strengthen their respective groups, so make every effort to attend your meetings. Once there, offer your input. Many hands, after all, make for easier work. One day plan to join your peers in the ranks of local government and become an association officer or director. Of all the support groups your local organization needs you the most.

A higher level of support is your state’s water well contractor licensing agency. In New Hampshire that agency is the Water Well Board (“Board”). It is a seven-member executive branch board, the members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Executive Council. Their tasks are to license water well contractors and pump installers – plus adopt, modify and enforce water well standards designed to protect ground waters of the state and the public.

The Board also conducts public meetings, collects well construction reports for water resources management and protection, provides information to the public relative to groundwater resources of the state, and acts as the Board of Appeals for enforcement actions taken by the NH Department of Environmental Services (“DES”) relative to the Board’s regulations.

The Board is administratively attached to New Hampshire’s environmental protection agency (DES) and Rick Schofield, Hydrogeologist III, administers the water well program for DES. He serves as liaison to the Board.

If a formal complaint is filed with DES or the Board, concerning improper well construction or pump installation, Mr. Schofield gathers information and investigates the complaint. Using the rules and regulations as a basis, he determines if a violation has occurred and if liability exists on the part of the water provider. Working as a mediator with both parties, Mr. Schofield’s efforts lend to resolving the issue.

Ultimately, support is available to both the customer (who attains what was paid for) and the contractor (who carries out his responsibilities, but is not held responsible for circumstances beyond his control). Many times the contractor is in the right; it is the consumer that may be unsatisfied with a well that, as an example, under-produces due to no fault of the driller.

However, if a violation is identified, DES may initiate an enforcement action against the contractor in the form of an administrative order to correct the violation, or an administrative fine, or both. Following a hearing held by DES, the contractor may appeal the decision to the Board.

If appealed, the Board takes on the role of an appellate body. It holds a public hearing, considers all the facts presented, and can uphold the DES decision, modify it or overturn the decision. This system is designed to assure continued non-bias support for both the public and water well industry professionals.

“There is nothing in the Board’s legislative mandate about educating the public,” Rick Schofield informs, “although it is a worthy cause and I spend a lot of my time on the telephone doing just that, as well as writing fact sheets.”

A sample of the Fact Sheet topics include: Site Selection for Private Drinking Water Wells; Bedrock (Artesian) Well Design; Recommended Minimum Water Supply Capacity for Private Wells; Well Development by Hydrofracturing; Causes of Bacteria in Water Samples; and Well Abandonment and Decommissioning – among others.

These articles are valuable to both the well contractor and consumer and are a key component of the industry’s support chain. And while each state may not have a Water Well Board similar to New Hampshire, in all likelihood, there exists a water resources and protection department.  If you haven’t already, contact your state agency. See what support is there for you. Similar pamphlets and publications may be available.

The next level of support comes from your region. The New England Water Well Association, Inc. coordinates annual expos for the industry, bringing together tradesmen, suppliers and manufacturers. The coming together of all aspects of the industry into one place is important because it bonds one professional to the other.  It is a time to visit exhibitors and peers, plus see displays of equipment and products for sale by large and small firms.

It is a place to attend industry-related, educational seminars.  Various industry-exams are offered for those who wish to establish a license or excel in the field by accumulating several. After passing a realm of component-exams, one can strive for and ultimately attain certification as a Master Well Driller.

In the realm of associations the next level is national. The National Ground Water Association compares to a huge borehole with millions of veins spilling into it. The veins are the states and its constituents –some larger than others— that are all equally important. Keeping your interests, needs, and desires in mind, this national organization is a compilation of your voices. It represents YOU in Washington where laws are passed or voted down.

Similar to its regional counterparts, the National Ground Water Association hosts annual expositions in places like Las Vegas, setting the scene for America’s regions to converge. Tests, displays, and fellow-industry entities are mixed together like cement and water. This bonding is important. Just as drives shoes secure casing into bedrock, so too does this muster firm the industry’s union.

The national association also gathers and publishes information in pamphlets and magazines such as this ‘Water Well Journal.’ These venues seek to educate and entertain you, the professional, in your quest for knowledge and growth.  Located in Westerville, Ohio, with today’s Internet technology, this support group is virtually right next door. Log into their website at You will have vast information at your fingertips.

Just as steel well casing is joined together allowing each length to strengthen a borehole, so too are companies coupled together to form this industry’s support system. Take advantage of your local, state, regional and national organizations. They are in place for you. Extract from them what you need. In turn, give to them what you can.