The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) and The Groundwater Foundation (GF) have announced that Groundwater Awareness Week (GWAW) will take place March 6-12. An annual observance established in 1999 to highlight the responsible development, management and use of groundwater, the event is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance, and the promotion of policies impacting groundwater quality and supply.
Groundwater advocates across the country also use GWAW to highlight local water issues in their communities. This year, NGWA and its partners will be focusing their advocacy on promoting professional opportunities in the groundwater industry. According to the American Geosciences Institute, nationally there are more than 135,000 open positions in the industry now, which is far too high to keep up with consumer demand.
Because over 44 percent of the population depends on groundwater as a primary water source, developing an interest in the groundwater industry is of vital importance to both the health and economy of the country. Groundwater professionals span a wide variety of careers and skills including well contractors, hydrogeologists and groundwater policy advocates, as well as suppliers and manufacturers of groundwater technology. Recently, in an effort to respond to this shortfall of groundwater professionals, NGWA has partnered with Oklahoma State University to develop new tools to attract more people into the industry.
Launching last year, Drilling Basics Online is a first of its kind online platform for individuals to pursue a comprehensive education in groundwater drilling and geoscience with a focus on the competencies tested for on groundwater drilling exams. The courses offered through Drilling Basics Online are: Drilling Safety, Geology and Groundwater, Hydrogeology and Fluid Mechanics, Rig Types and Well Design, Drill Rig Safety and General Workplace Safety. The program will continue to be developed with new online offerings while adding classroom and field courses.
“It’s almost impossible to understate how important groundwater is to our lives, health and economy,” said National Ground Water Association CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “And one of the best ways to ensure its protection is to bring more and better trained people into the industry and instill in them a passion for smart groundwater management and advocacy.”
Groundwater Awareness Week also serves as an annual reminder for water well owners to test, tend and treat their private water systems. NGWA encourages annual inspections of private water systems by certified water well contractors to ensure systems are operating correctly and producing safe and healthy water. WellOwner.org, which is operated by NGWA with assistance from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, offers private well owners tip sheets on water well maintenance and a ‘Find A Contractor’ page which allows the public to find certified local water well contractors in their area.