NGWA Standards Development

Through several ongoing programs, NGWA does much to fulfill our mission statement of advancing groundwater knowledge. Programs include educational short courses and conferences, NGWA Groundwater Week, certification, publications, Groundwater Awareness Week, and legislative advocacy.

However, one area that NGWA feels needs increased work to fulfill our mission statement is the development of industry standards.

What is a “standard” and why is it important?

A “standard” is a formal technical document for generally accepted processes, procedures, and policies. NGWA feels industry standards are important for many reasons. National standards help to protect our limited resources and ensure future sustainability. They help ensure the most capable professionals are working in the field because it provides a point of reference or benchmark to follow for those in the industry as well as the consumer.

They also ensure proper knowledge is passed on to future members of the industry.

​​What is a perfo​rmance standard?

A performance standard focuses on the outcome rather than the means of getting there.

Performance standards identify objectives and define the attributes of a successful end result, including measures of success to the extent practicable. Often, performance standards outline constraints and boundary conditions, so that judgment can be applied in executing the means with explicit expectations of how much risk of failure is acceptable.

Given variations in site conditions, humans, and hardware, there is a need for some flexibility in groundwater industry standards. Performance standards allow for this flexibility in prescribing where professional judgment should be used while safeguarding the integrity of the outcome.

Performance standards define the requirements for the end result — the “shall do” of a project; guidance documents and other mediums provide the “how-to” methods.

​What are the benefits of a performance-based standard?​

Performance standards allow for a certain degree of flexibility, which can lead to accepting new innovations, reducing costs, and maintaining relevance.

The increased flexibility inherent to performance standards allows for the understanding that expectations of owners, society, or the site will vary. Likewise, technological variations may be present. For example, resources available in one location may not be readily available in another (developed vs. developing countries).

Because performance standards focus on the end result rather than prescribing how to reach this outcome, they remove barriers to innovation. Performance standards set criteria for suitability against which innovative and existing products can be assessed. The range of suppliers suited for delivering the products that meet the standard is thus increased. The variation in solutions available to meet the standard’s requirements allows for newer or cheaper options to fit that standard without requiring revision. This, in turn, means these standards stay up-to-date longer than those prescribing means and methods.

Even with the accelerating rate of innovation, performance standards require fewer modifications to stay up-to-date. There is no need to change the standard unless the objectives themselves change.

Your participation in the standard setting process is paramount!

The groundwater community is ultimately responsible for regulating itself through the consensus standard setting process. Advances in the industry are only made through the regular participation of dedicated professionals.

Volunteers are a precious commodity required by NGWA to provide up-to-date and accurate information resources to the groundwater industry. Your voice as an industry professional is valuable and needed to assist the positive movement of the groundwater community.

Meetings will be hosted online via collaborative software, conference calls, and e-mail communication. While all of these are helpful, the only technology necessary to participate in task group work is a telephone and preferably a fax machine or e-mail address.

Interested volunteers are asked to respond as soon as possible by filling out the Standard Development Task Group application.

For more information, send an email to industrypractices@ngwa.org or call (800) 551-7379 or (614) 898-7791.