With restrictions on gatherings due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, nearly 2500 industry professionals attended NGWA’s first all virtual Groundwater Week 2020.
The 72nd annual Groundwater Week, held December 8-11, saw 2490 professionals from 58 countries across the globe, in addition to the United States, take in four days of educational sessions, product demonstrations, and opportunities to visit 76 exhibitors in the virtual exhibit hall. All sectors of the industry — water well system professionals, manufacturers, suppliers, and scientists and engineers — were represented.
Originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the third consecutive year, Groundwater Week 2020 was moved to a virtual format due to constraints on gatherings in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“While the format was different in 2020, the event still provided many of the great experiences our industry expects from Groundwater Week,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “I’m extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish and look forward to getting started on planning our in-person event in 2021 in Nashville.”
The event featured Kevin McGinnis’ Keynote Presentation, “Establishing Social Distancing Between Contamination and Drinking Water Systems,” and the 2020 NGWA Industry Awards Ceremony.
McGinnis, president of Cotey Chemical Corp., is also The Groundwater Foundation’s 2021 McEllhiney Lecturer and delivered the kickoff presentation of that talk, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Innovative Treatment Options for Established and Emerging Water Quality Challenges.”
“We are so grateful to all the exhibitors/sponsors, members, and especially NGWA staff who stepped up to make the event the best it could be,” said NGWA President Merritt Partridge, vice president of Partridge Well Drilling Co. Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Attendance and participation greatly exceeded our expectations. The quality of the classes and material provided was top notch.
“It was great seeing everyone at the virtual booths. The year 2020 brought a lot of uncertainty, but you can be certain our industry remains strong. Groundwater Week was a great example of just that.”
There were nine hours of exhibit time over three days for attendees to interact with the 76 exhibitors — including three first-time exhibitors (Texas Pipe Works Inc., Ketos Inc., and HydroMetrics Inc.). Attendees watched product demonstrations in the exhibitor’s virtual booths and had the option to talk directly with the exhibitor in a private virtual meeting.
Franklin Electric, the Diamond Partner of Groundwater Week 2020, donated $50 to NGWA for every non-exhibiting attendee who visited its booth during Groundwater Week and raised $25,000 in total donations. NGWA also gave away different swag items courtesy of Franklin Electric during each day of the event.
“Groundwater Week 2020 was uncharted territory, but everything went very well,” said Franklin Electric Director of Sales Travis Bradley.
“From educational sessions to private meetings, we were able to connect with professionals in the industry and have meaningful conversations. While we missed seeing everyone in person, we were able to connect with some attendees who had not participated in prior years due to the required travel.”
Companies traditionally debut new products to attendees at Groundwater Week, and Flomatic Valves was among the ones to do just that. The company in Glens Falls, New York, released its new Model 48 1-inch drain-back valve for submersible pump water well installations.
NGWA randomly awarded $500 in prize money ($2000 total) to two attendees who visited exhibitors in the virtual exhibit hall during each of the two days in the middle of Groundwater Week 2020.
In addition, attendees earned points and won prizes throughout Groundwater Week 2020 when performing certain actions during the live show — such as visiting an exhibitor, scheduling a meeting, adding their profile photo, and other items. Attendees tracked their score and watched the leaderboard to see how many points they needed to be entered into several drawings on the Groundwater Week virtual platform.
During breaks in learning, attendees stopped by “The Playground” on the virtual platform and watched NGWA’s on-demand videos that included a special song written for NGWA by Gary Jenkins, a performance by Nashville singer/songwriter Celeste Kellogg (who happens to be a water well driller’s daughter), a biscuit cooking class from Biscuit Love in Nashville, and more.
The event also gave attendees the opportunity to watch memorable Keynote Presentations from previous years in segments titled “Keynote Flashback.”
Sponsored by Goulds Water Technology, a Xylem brand, attendees were able to connect with one another throughout Groundwater Week 2020 in public chat forums.
Attendees and exhibitors alike navigated the virtual platform and could contact NGWA’s Help Desk if any technical issues arose.
“You have compassion for what we are all dealing with,” one exhibitor told NGWA. “We are all learning and adapting and you clearly embrace that and are guiding us through the journey. Your frequent emails about new learnings are very much welcomed and appreciated and put technical professionals and vendors at ease.”
Click here to read the full recap article from the January 2021 issue of Water Well Journal®.
— By Mike Price