Saving Money for California Rate and Tax Payers
Noah Heller, MS PG
President, BESST, Inc.
In the early 2000s, the US Geological Survey completed development of a well profiling technology with a really long name: Tracer Flowmeter and Depth Dependent Sampler. When Dr. John Izbicki (from the USGS) encouraged BESST to apply for a license, and if awarded, to further develop and commercialize the technology, it was his belief at the time that the main application would be for older wells on their last legs. With over 750 municipal wells profiled in California since early 2005, our experience has been quite a bit different. About 35% of all wells profiled by BESST have been new wells that cannot come on line as a result of water quality compliance issues. The implication is serious in that the results show that exploratory methods are consistently inadequate and have caused major financial indigestion and balance sheet meltdown when treatment solutions are used to correct these problems.
Over the years we've heard numerous arguments against treatment avoidance such as:
a) it won't work in a single, thick aquifer where there is no stratigraphic separation between fine and coarse grained sediments to isolate undesirable water quality zones
b) there will be cross contaminating leakage through the gravel pack that will circumvent blocking strategies
c) well modification will not last long so treatment should be used instead. The probability is that there is some truth to these arguments. However, given the number of wells profiled by BESST and modified to selectively extract compliant mixes of groundwater, these dissuasion's address the problematic exceptions and not the norm. Combining basic hydrogeologic theory with solid engineering practice, the success rate has been overwhelmingly positive.
The main point is that Treatment Avoidance is the most fiscally conservative approach to saving rate and tax payers monies with respect to groundwater supply and should be embraced for consideration as a first response to rectify water quality problems.
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Noah Heller has been in geologic practice for the past 32 years, is a California registered geologist and holds a BS and MS in geology. He focuses on new technology development and improvement of existing technologies in order to acquire high quality, high resolution subsurface data. He is the founder and president of BESST, Inc.
Michael Bombard is a senior hydrogeologist with GHD, Inc. At GHD, he is concentrating on projects involving water resources management. He has over 30 years of experience in conducting and managing subsurface investigations in addition to managing projects that involved the remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater. His experience includes managing multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts for the Department of Defense, conducting oversight activities for USEPA, managing and coordinating emergency response efforts for petroleum releases, and working with legal counsel in support of projects involving property transfer for land developers in Northern California. He has a BA in Geology from the University of California at Berkeley, and is licensed as a California Professional Geologist/Certified Hydrogeologist and Washington State Licensed Geologist/Hydrogeologist.
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