(WESTERVILLE, OH — September 27, 2012) The National Ground Water Association has announced its annual Awards of Excellence, Outstanding Groundwater Project Awards, and Divisional Awards, which will be presented this December during the NGWA Groundwater Expo and Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
NGWA’s top honor, the Ross L. Oliver Award, has been awarded to Tom Downey, CWD/PI, 2006 NGWA president. Downey is president and chief executive officer of Downey Drilling Inc. in Lexington, Nebraska.
Among Downey’s groundwater industry contributions and recognitions are:
It was during Downey’s tenure as NGWA’s president that the Association established the Robert Storm Interdivisional Cooperation Award — a reflection of Downey’s commitment to fostering unity among all groundwater professionals to benefit the public and groundwater.
NGWA’s other awards and respective winners follow.
M. King Hubbert Award for major science contributions to the knowledge of groundwater: Professor Brian Berkowitz of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. His nominator, mentor, and NGWA’s 1990 Hubbert Award winner, Technion Professor Emeritus Jacob Bear, said Berkowitz “is a highly respected scientist who has provided pioneering contributions in several key fields of subsurface hydrology.
“I have seen Brian develop into an indisputably first-class research scientist. His research has had key impacts in the field of subsurface hydrology, in terms of conceptual understanding — based on theory and experiment — and mathematical description of fluid flow and chemical transport processes, especially in heterogeneous geological media,” Bear said.
Robert Storm Interdivisional Cooperation Award: John “Jack” W. Henrich, MGWC, CVCLD, and NGWA’s 2011 president. Henrich was selected for promoting collaboration, enhancing cooperation, and fostering community among all groundwater professionals within the Association’s four membership divisions.
“He understood the big picture and the need to develop a comprehensive approach to the problems and challenges NGWA faced,” wrote Henrich’s nominator, Richard Clarke, sales and marketing director for SIMCO Drilling Equipment Inc. in Osceola, Iowa. “He made it a point to reach out to all the divisions to solicit their positions and input on key topics. His easy going style sometimes masked his determination to build a consensus.”
Life Member Awards for special service in the furtherance of the groundwater industry and NGWA: William M. Alley, Ph.D., retired chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Office of Groundwater; Texas Ground Water Association Executive Secretary Leroy Goodson; Beverly L. Herzog, CGWP, retired from the Illinois State Geological Survey; Randy Lyne, president and owner of Fort Worth-based Preferred Pump & Equipment LP; Dr. Thomas E. Reilly, retired from the U.S. Geological Survey; and Dr. Jose Joel Carrillo Rivera of Mexico University.
Honorary Member Award for those outside the groundwater industry who have contributed a special service: Jane Wittke, senior planner for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI). More than 600,000 people in the OKI region depend on the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer for drinking water.
“Jane is a strong advocate of groundwater protection and spearheads the OKI Groundwater Committee,” said her nominator, Bruce Whittenberry of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works. “Jane has enormous tenacity to push through the barriers that slow federal funding and resources to ensure important water management work is completed. The communities and residents of the OKI region are fortunate to have her working on their behalf.”
Technology Award for an individual’s major contributions to the groundwater industry in the development of ideas, tools, and/or equipment: Ray Roussy, PE, president of Sonic Drill Corp. and Sonic Drilling Ltd., Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.
Roussy is the patent holder of sonic drilling technology and geothermal loop installation using sonic drilling. Sonic drilling uses vibratory energy to advance the drill string. The energy produced by the drill head liquefies overburden and bedrock and pushes the material up and away.
Individual Safety Advocate Award: Jim Wright of National Exploration, Wells and Pumps in Shawnee, Kansas. While with his previous employer, WDC Exploration & Wells, the company reached 1.75 million hours with no lost-time incidents in 2.5 years. Now as compliance manager for environment, health, safety, and quality at his current company, Wright has set his sights on a full year with no recordable safety incidents.
“Jim Wright proves on a daily basis he is more than an advocate for safety — he talks the talk and even more importantly walks the walk,” said nominator Kathy Butcher, CMP, NGWA director of professional development, who has called upon Wright to assist with NGWA safety presentations and materials.
Special Recognition Awards presented to an individual or organization that demonstrates dedication, service, and commitment to the groundwater industry and community through involvement and achievement on a local or regional level: Hydrogeologist Stephen Baker of Nevada City, California, for his work in promoting groundwater stewardship through radio feature stories and his organization, Operation Unite® Alliance, and the Water Replenishment District of Southern California for its Water Independence Now water efficiency and conservation program.
Standard Bearer Award for outstanding volunteer involvement in the legislative process: Scott Fowler, CWD/PI, and president and co-owner of Dahlman Pump & Drilling Inc. in Burlington, Washington. Fowler’s contributions include:
NGWA Awards Subcommittee Chair Alan Eades, CWD/PI, CVCLD, said Fowler’s commitment to helping NGWA’s voice be heard in Washington is exemplary.
“NGWA can always count on Scott to be there when we need a presence in the halls of Congress. Flying across the country each year, sacrificing time and money to represent NGWA in Washington, D.C., is no big deal for Scott,” said Eades. “Scott models what it means to be a full participant in our democratic process.”
Outstanding Groundwater Protection Project Award: Mesa Water District (Mesa Water) in Costa Mesa, California, for its $21 million Colored Water Treatment Facility Technology Replacement and Expansion Project.
Mesa Water sits above a portion of Orange County’s groundwater basin that stores amber-colored water with a sulfur smell from ancient redwood forests. In 2009, Mesa Water discovered that seawater was increasing the color levels in the groundwater beyond the plant’s treatment capabilities. In response, Mesa Water began an ambitious improvement project to upgrade the treatment facility and increase its capacity.
Project benefits include:
Outstanding Groundwater Remediation Project Award: ARCADIS, for its role as technical lead in an advanced water treatment research program for hexavalent chromium, or Cr(VI), in drinking water. Cr(VI) is recognized as a human carcinogen. The research was conducted for the city of Glendale, California, in partnership with other cities and agencies.
Before the research, no research literature existed proving that treatment technologies could remove Cr(VI) to very low part-per-billion levels in drinking water. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California are moving toward limits that could require treatment of Cr(VI) to such levels.
The 10-year-old research program identified several technologies effective at treating Cr(VI) to low levels. Glendale is now effectively treating Cr(VI) in its water, and the study results are available to the water treatment and groundwater remediation communities nationwide.
John Hem Excellence in Science and Engineering Award for significant scientific or engineering contributions to the understanding of groundwater: U.S. Geological Survey hydrogeologist Dr. Paul Hsieh. The award recognizes Hsieh’s career contributions, generally, as well as his role in helping with the control of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 in which millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Based on Hsieh’s evaluation of data photographed and sent to him via a cell phone, a critical decision was made that resulted in capping the well effectively and permanently in the face of disagreement over the meaning of the data and recommendations to the contrary.
“I have had so many scientists, young and old, come up to me to tell me they never imagined that this kind of visibility would be possible for hydrology, all thanks to Paul’s efforts,” U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt said. “His work on the oil spill, in particular, was highlighted when he was selected from among 2.1 million employees as the Federal Employee of the Year in 2011 — the highest honor in government service.”
Keith E. Anderson Award for outstanding contributions to NGWA: John R. Jansen, Ph.D., PG, PGP, of Cardno ENTRIX in West Bend, Wisconsin. His contributions to NGWA include participation in numerous committees and work groups, as well as serving on the board of the scientists and engineers division from 2004-2007.
“I met Dr. Jansen through NGWA and his enthusiasm greatly influenced my involvement with the organization,” said Dr. William M. Alley, former chief of the Office of Groundwater for the U.S. Geological Survey. “He was instrumental in establishing the annual NGWA Groundwater Summit at the forefront of where groundwater science and practice meet. I always make it a point to attend his talks at NGWA.”
Manufacturers Division Special Recognition Award: George Simas, president and chief executive officer of Randolph, Massachusetts-based Flexcon Industries. Simas joined Flexcon in 1991 as vice president of sales. The company currently sells tanks to more than 100 countries.
During Simas’ tenure, Flexcon became the first company to:
Supplier of the Year Award: Preferred Pump & Equipment LP salesman Greg Esborg of Tacoma, Washington. Esborg has been in the water well industry for 25 years. In addition to being a long-time member of NGWA, Esborg is currently president of the Washington State Ground Water Association — the first non-water well contractor to be elected to that position.
“Greg has always put the customer first. At times when company changes do not agree with employees or customers, Greg will always pull through,” said nominator Rick Richardson, president of Richardson Well Drilling Inc. in Tacoma. “He can provide and deliver when others just cannot. Throughout his career he has always been available 24/7, including weekends. His contacts with and respect from manufacturers cannot be equaled.”
NGWA also awarded earlier this year its Groundwater Protector Award to U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota). This award, which honors people in government, industry, and the private sector for their public service efforts in conjunction with groundwater conservation, protection, and use, was presented to McCullom during the 2012 NGWA Washington Fly-in that took place in February.
NGWA, a nonprofit organization composed of U.S. and international groundwater professionals — contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, scientists, and engineers — is dedicated to advancing groundwater knowledge. NGWA’s vision is to be the leading groundwater association that advocates the responsible development, management, and use of water.
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