WorldWide Drilling Resource®

Notes from the Groundwater Guy by Thomas E. Ballard, P.G., C.H.G. Southeast Hydrogeology, PLLC You Are Doing It All Wrong! ~ How Spending More Can Save Money Too often, we get sucked into the lowest cost bid mindset, and it is usually driven by what the cus- tomer wants, or thinks they want. What they really want is the lowest cost well, but that does not neces- sarily mean the cheapest well up front. Does this even make sense? Let me explain. While many customers are focused on the lowest costs right now, more savvy operators realize the real way to look at costs is to determine the costs over the entire life of the well. In the parlance of water utilities, this is called asset management. It is a powerful concept for maintaining an optimally performing water system over time, both in terms of operational uptime and in terms of lowest operating costs. The cost of a well over its life span is really the sum of three factors: 1. The initial capital cost of the well. 2. The maintenance costs associated with the well (rehabilitation, repairs, etc.). 3. The life span of the well. Let’s break these down a bit. The initial capital cost of the well is often the focus of most bids since it is the most obvious up-front cost, yet it has been proven time and time again that using quality materials (which often means higher prices) can extend the life of the well substantially and result in reduced rehabilitation and mainte- nance cycles. It is really better to think of the initial cost as an investment in an asset rather than an actual cost. This can be mit- igated a bit by proper well specifications. This is often the case for municipal wells, but we still see many instances in the case of municipal wells where specifica- tions were developed to try to cut cor- ners, resulting in poorly designed wells which did not perform to expectations. Maintenance and rehabilitation costs can be significant over the life span of a well, and total costs in this category can exceed the initial capital cost of the well. This is where higher quality materials can really make a difference. Using stainless steel versus lower grades of steel can slow down the rate of mineral incrustation devel- opment or biofouling, so you can extend the interval between major well rehabili- tation efforts by years, and those reha- bilitation efforts end up costing less. This will substantially reduce the total costs over the life span of the well and more than make up for using more expensive materials for initial construction. Lastly, higher quality materials, such as stainless steel, are more resistant to cor- rosion and other forms of deterioration, resulting in life spans that can double or triple the lives of wells using cheaper materials. Taken together, these three factors can result in wells that are less expensive over their entire life span, even if the initial costs are greater due to higher quality materials being used. Tom Tom Ballard may be contacted via e-mail to michele@ 41 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® JULY 2020 WTR