By Carlos David Mogollón
Orlando-Bound for NGWA’s Ground Water Expo
While a number of associations have struggled with attendance in recent years, the National Ground Water Association, which hosts its 55th annual convention—the 2003 Ground Water Expo—in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 9-12, is coming off a record year. That’s true in more ways than one, acknowledged NGWA executive director Kevin McCray.
“Last year’s show was in Las Vegas and (attendance) was 5,561 people… And pre-registration right now indicates we’ll have another strong showing this year,” he said, pointing out it’s the first time since the early ’50s the NGWA show will be held in Orlando.
McCray noted, effects of drought nationwide have made well drillers extremely busy this year, and whether the Orlando event matches or comes close to Las Vegas’ record attendance, may depend on a number of last-minute decisions. “We imagine there are a lot of people who are really just still working hard and literally putting cash in the bank. They’re going to be looking toward Orlando in early December as a way to give themselves a bit of a break that’s well earned.”
The event, he said, will be much more global in focus this year—with sister associations in Taiwan, Finland and Canada bringing delegations—as a result of a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. One of the speakers will be Edward Lowassa, Minister of Water for the United Republic of Tanzania, who’ll discuss the importance of quality groundwater to East Africa.
Well drillers, McCray said, are seeking to diversify their businesses in many ways and see the various influences on well water quality as an opportunity to incorporate more knowledge about water treatment, geothermal and wastewater issues into their toolbox, along with innovations such as horizontal well construction.
As such, among those at the show will be the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium and International Ground Source Heat Pump Association. The Water Quality Association will be back with a pavilion at the expo for the second year. WQA will—for the first time—be holding Certified Water Specialist exams for those NGWA attendees pursuing continuing professional education in water treatment technologies to offer such services as a means to diversify their businesses.
Other organizations represented include two for the septic tank industry—the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association and National Precast Concrete Association. Given more frequent conflicts nationally on a state level regarding restrictions of brine discharge from water softeners to septic systems, not to mention effects of domestic sewage on drinking water wells in urban and rural areas, it might be a good opportunity for dialogue.
“Our experience is the folks at WQA have always been open-minded and… want to be good stewards. I’m sure those two organizations, those two industries will find a way to talk to each other. And, if NGWA can have some positive part in facilitating that discussion, we’d be proud of having done that,” said McCray.
Likewise, other issues likely to come up include watershed management, recharge/groundwater injection and contaminants such as perchlorate, MTBE, NDMA and TCE/PCE. Also, “Live Action Demonstration” is returning to the program with themes like forklift training, grouting, welding skills, troubleshooting constant pressure valves and keeping your vehicle in-service.
McCray was enthusiastic: “We have 265 exhibiting companies, which is the highest number we’ve had outside of one of our Las Vegas events. It will be the most square footage, certainly, outside of the Las Vegas experience. We have 76 hours of continuing education.”
NGWA’s focus, for several years now, has been on improving the professionalism of its members as a way to be proactive with respect to growing regulatory and legislative pressures for increased training requirements and licensing.
For more details, see the full interview with McCray linked to the online version of this article. We also present an overview of the Expo program and links to the full schedule of events at www.wcponline.com.