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News - August 2013 - American Ground Water Trust 2013 Scholarship Awards

AGWT is pleased to announce the 2013 recipients of the AGWT Groundwater Scholarship Program.  The scholarships are for entry level college students intending to pursue a career in the field of groundwater.  Several scholarships exist through the generosity of corporate sponsors including Amtrol Inc., Baroid Industrial Drilling Products and Stetson Engineers, Inc.  Since 2000 AGWT has awarded $80,000 to promising ground water scientists and engineers through this scholarship program. 

Lindsey Jones, Short Hills, New Jersey

Ms. Lindsey Jones will be a First Year at McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) this fall.  Lindsey has a passion for volunteering and supporting the environment.  She was secretary of the Millburn High School Environmental Club and president of the school’s student-run Lego Mindstorms Club that mentors elementary school students.  During the past two summers she has spent time repairing oyster reefs along the North Carolina coast and upgrading aquatic habitat in the Great Swamp Watershed in northern New Jersey and Lake Memphremagog in the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in northern Vermont.  Lindsey will pursue an Environmental Engineering degree at Northwestern. 



Jessica Murray, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Jessica Murray - 2013 AMTROL- AGWT Scholarship Recipient

Ms. Jessica Murray is a graduate of Carlisle High School.  While in high school, Jessica was a member of the Envirothon and Olympiad science competition teams.  She also did original research on the water quality of a local spring-fed pond and its suitability as a habitat for cold-water Rainbow Trout.  Her efforts won her a first-place award at the 2013 state-level Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences competition.  When Jessica is not studying water she will be swimming in it as a First Year member of the swim team at Juanita College (Huntingdon, PA). She is looking forward to spending the next four years preparing for an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Chemistry and using that knowledge to ensure that our water resources are utilized sustainably. 



Baroid Industrial Drilling Products Award
Mary Jaskowiak, Sleepy Hollow, Illinois

Ms. Mary Jaskowiak will attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington this fall as a First Year to pursue a double major in Environmental Science and Marine Biology.  Mary developed a deep appreciation and personal connection to the natural environment during family camping vacations as a child.  During her final two high school years at Dundee-Crown High School, Mary was instrumental in leading a team of students in restoring a wetlands area near the school.  Her life goal is to use her training to manage our water resources to achieve sustainable outcomes and prevent degradation of our oceans, rivers and groundwater.





Thomas Stetson Award, Auspices of Stetson Engineers Inc.
Mason Oxford, Hotchkiss, Colorado

Mr. Mason Oxford graduated from Hotchkiss High as the Valedictorian of his class with a 4.0 GPA.  As a member of River Watch during his high school years, he monitored the water quality of the North Fork of the Gunnison River.  During the summer months he has worked on mine reclamation projects including construction of wetlands to mitigate heavy metals from acid mine-water runoff.  Mason is an avid kayaker and understands first-hand the value of water in the semi-arid west.  Mason will attend Montana State University this fall to pursue a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering with emphasis on water resource infrastructure.

News - July 2013 - Geothermal innovations Workshop in Cincinnati Ohio

On July 16, Cincinnati Ohio was the location of American Ground Water Trust’s sixth Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations workshop in 2013.  It is the third offering in the local area since 2007 when AGWT began this outreach initiative highlighting the connections between low-temperature geothermal and groundwater.Jeff Quinn (left) and Greg Wells

Greg Wells of Jackson Geothermal and Jeff Quinn of Baroid IDP spoke on the importance of “ground proofing” the loop design using formation thermal conductivity (FTC) tests.  Thermal conductivity is the physical property of a material that determines how easily heat can pass through it.  A FTC test determines an in-situ average value for the total composite length of rock exposed in the borehole that will contain the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) loop pipe at a specific location in the loop field.  FTC tests are also used to document important design parameters including overburden soil and rock types, rock layer thicknesses, depth to groundwater, groundwater quality and quantity and the competency of the subsurface geology with regard to faults and potentially unstable zones that could impact drilling progress and require special drilling methods.  FTC tests should be completed in borings that will eventually be part of the loop field.  The FTC boreholes should be drilled to the design depth of the loop field in order to match the composite composition of the rock and soil material that will be in contact with the loop pipe.  As a general rule, a FTC test should be completed when the cost of the FTC test is equal to or less than the cost difference between the low and the high end loop design cost estimates according to the range of possible thermal conductivity values for the project area.  If difficult drilling conditions may be encountered then the potential extra cost of the drilling may also be added to the loop cost differential as a comparison to the cost of the FTC test in the cost benefit analysis. 

A CD of the presentations (PDF format) offered at the Cincinnati Geothermal workshop is available for a small fee that supports the education programs of the American Ground Water Trust.  Send an email to the Trust for more information.

News - June 2013 - Richmond Virginia - Groundwater Protection and Drilling Geothermal Loop Boreholes

The mid-Atlantic region of the United States is a growing market for geothermal heat pump space-conditioning systems.  The American Ground Water Trust hosted the sixth anPresenter Dennis Duty of Baroidnual Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations workshop in the Delaware-Maryland- Virginia area on June 5.  Drilling boreholes is the most common ground loop installation method for geothermal systems.  When properly designed and installed a vertical loop field provides a very stable energy source leading to great system performance that can be sited on small property spaces. 

Dennis Duty (picture) of Baroid IDP with over 25 years experience in the geotechnical and water well drilling industry described the various drilling processes involved with vertical loop fields and the critical importance of protecting groundwater quality during the drilling, geo-pipe placement and grouting activities.  Dennis stated that, “a successful drilling project begins before the first turn of the drillbit.”  Determining what drilling methods and materials will be needed to complete the loop field installation correctly and also maintain groundwater quality requires pre-planning incorporating the best available information on the geology, groundwater and site conditions of the project site.  One size does not fit all.  Sources of local information reside at nearby universities, state environmental agencies and with the state and federal branches of geologic surveys.

A CD of the presentations (PDF format) offered at the Cincinnati Geothermal workshop is available for a small fee that supports the education programs of the American Ground Water Trust.  Send an email to the Trust for more information.

News - May 2013 – Denver Colorado – Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) and AGWT Education Partnership

John Kelly, GEO’s Special Projects Manager (picture) was the opening speaker at American Ground Water Trust’s Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations workshop in Denver this May.  The workshop continues the two year partnership between GEO and AGWT educating professionals in the geothermal heat pump industry about the importance of protecting groundwater quality when installing and operating low temperature geothermal John Kelly of GEOHVAC systems.   Protection begins in the design phase of the project and continues with implementing daily operation and maintenance procedures that ensure that ground water is used efficiently.  Society’s demand for water and energy resources are coming into conflict more and more as the availability and installation of modern water-using appliances and electronic devices become saturated in every home in the developed world and continue rapid expansion into developing countries.  Super-efficient, low-carbon emission geothermal heat pump technology must play a major role in managing our future energy use to meet sustainable outcomes while protecting ground water.  This outcome requires education and the increased awareness that follows from the GEO-AGWT partnership. 

A CD of the presentations (PDF format) offered at the Denver geothermal workshop is available for a small fee that supports the education programs of the American Ground Water Trust.  Send an email to the Trust for more information.


News - May 2013 - American Ground Water Trust Excites Fourth Graders at the 2013 NH Drinking Water Week Festival

May Day in Concord, New Hampshire provided an appropriately showery day for the NH Department of Environmental Services 2013 Drinking Water Week Festival for fourth grade students from around the state. The American Ground Water Trust has helped plan and teach at this event since its inception in 2002. Over 350 fourth grade students from area schools participated in the festival, which was held this year at the Concord Open Water Bog - Gilmanton NHDrinking Water Treatment Plant. Garret Graaskamp, AGWT Hydrogeologist, assisted the students as they used AGWT’s hands-on groundwater model to explore how groundwater moves between lakes and rivers and through the sandy glacial soils and hard bedrock that form New Hampshire’s beautiful landscapes.

News - May 2013 - Portland Oregon - Geothermal Workshop

On May 14th the Trust convened the third workshop of its 2013 series on “low-temperature” geothermal Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems in Portland, Oregon, attracting an enthusiastic audience.  The event focused on the environmental benefits that result from the technology and the promise of increasing GHP installations in the Northwest by leveraging the region’s access to low cost electric power.  By showcasing geothermal heat pump technology and its relationship with groundwater, the Trust continued its mission of building awareness of the value of “invisible” groundwater by demonstrating its connection to the “visible” technologies we rely on in our daily lives. 

GHP technology is the only HVAC technology that can heat or cool a building with a zero carbon emission footprint when operated with electricity generated with carbon-clean renewable energy from solar, wind or hydro sources.  The workshop had timely significance as carbon emissions measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii peaked above 400 parts per million (ppm) on May 4th for the first time since measurements began there in March 1958.  In 1958 the carbon dioxide level was 315 ppm at MLO, as reported in the Economist

John Geyer of John Geyer and Associates described the energy use for heating and cooling in four residences in close proximity to each other along the Columbia River.  Two buildings had traditional conditioning systems included air-sourced HPs, and propane heat with electric AC while the remaining two buildings had GHP-based systems.  Evaluation of several years of utility payments demonstrated the significant energy savings that accrued to the GHP-based HVAC systems compared to the traditional systems.  Details of his evaluation are available in volume 9, issue number 3 (pp 22-28) of GeoOutlook magazine.

Mark Faulkenberry, Manager of Marketing & Communications at Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (Anadarko, OK) demonstrated the energy and emissions-reduction advantages that are created when electric utilities install the outdoor-geo-loop portion of a geothermal HVAC system and lease or rent it back to the property owner.  Loop ownership by the utility enables the company to lower its peak demand requirements and flatten the overall annual electricity-demand curve through the year.  This allows the utility to “stretch” its existing electricity generation capacity and significantly increase the time period between building new power generation plants.  Consumers benefit through paying a stable monthly fee to the utility through “on-bill” financing using an existing electricity bill.  The on-bill payment is much lower than the monthly cost to heat or cool the building using traditional HVAC options.  Families and businesses avoid the high installation-related first costs that keep many consumers from enjoying the energy savings and environmental benefits that GHP HVAC space conditioning systems create.  Mark also showcased the results of a video contest on Geo that WFEC organized to build awareness on the technology in Oklahoma.

A CD of the presentations (PDF format) offered at the Portland Geothermal workshop is available for a small fee that supports the education programs of the American Ground Water Trust.  Send an email to the Trust for more information.

NEWS - April 4, 2013 - AGWT Workshop: Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations, Tallahassee Florida

The American Ground Water Trust hosted the second geothermal workshop in its 2013 series, “Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations: Design, Financing and Regulation” in Tallahassee, Florida on April 4.  The audience hailed from a cross section of HVAC engineers, architects, geothermal installers, members of the Florida Departments of Health and Environmental Protection and the U.S Air Force. 

Chuck Hammock (left) is a Principal Engineer at Andrews, Hammock & Powell, Inc. (Macon, GA) and heads its geothermal projects division.  Mr. Hammock also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Ground Water Trust.  Chuck presented a session on Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) and Borehole Thermal Energy Storage (BTES).  These specialized geothermal loop methods are common in Europe, but are essentially non-existent in the United States.  Both technologies reverse the flow direction within the geothermal loop on a seasonal basis.  This positively enhances the natural subsurface energy conditions and creates opportunity for increased GHP performance.  The BTES method uses a modified closed loop while the ATES system is based on large open loop borehole fields that directly access groundwater.  Both BTES and ATES methods require well defined knowledge of local groundwater quality, quantity and flow conditions to optimize energy exchange and system response.  AH&P is currently completing demonstration projects for these geoexchange methods at Department of Defense sites in Georgia.   

Formation thermal conductivity is a fundamental variable in the geothermal closed loop design process.  David Henrich (right), Vice President in charge of production of thermal conductivity test equipment at Precision Geothermal LLC (Maple Plain, MN) explained the methodology of FTC testing and how the test borehole can be incorporated into the final loop field.  He emphasized the need for using appropriate equipment in order to collect valid data and when the test can be most valuable to a geothermal designer.  The test should be considered for moderate to large commercial projects.  A FTC test usually is not appropriate for open loop systems.


Keith Swilley (left), Marketing Manager, Gulf Power Company (Pensacola, FL) and Board member of the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) demonstrated the environmental benefits and significant reduction in operating costs GHP space conditioning systems create in comparison to conventional air-conditioning and heating systems.  The 30 percent Federal tax credit for residential properties, and the 10 percent tax credit and accelerated depreciation for commercial properties, remain in effect for GHP conditioning systems put into operation through new construction or renovation before December 31, 2016.  Gulf Power and other Florida electric utilities offer additional incentives that are outlined at http://dsireusa.org/.


NEWS – March 2013 – AGWT Workshop – Groundwater, Renewable Energy and Geothermal Heating and Cooling (Baltimore MD)

Geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology accesses sun-derived energy stored underground in groundwater and bedrock to heat and cool homes and commercial buildings all across the United States.  In early March, the American Ground Water Trust workshop, “Geothermal Heating and Cooling Innovations- Design, Financing and Regulation” featured presentations by leading energy engineers, groundwater professionals, designers and government experts on some of the newest advancements in the industry.  Over 80 registrants from the building industry and environmental organizations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC region attended the program. 

Maryland’s new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was highlighted on the program.  In 2012 Maryland’s legislature enacted the first RPS law in the nation to allow electric utilities to include thermal energy derived from GHPs as a credit in RPS programs.  Doug Hinrichs (right), Clean Energy Program Manager for Maryland Energy Administration described the energy conservation benefits from the RPS program and the importance of GHP technology in the process.  GHPs are 300 to 500 percent more efficient than conventional electric and fossil fuel-based heating and cooling methods and thus can significantly reduce electricity use and avoid carbon emissions while still providing the same level of temperature control and comfort throughout a building space.  GHPs combine the efficiency of heat pump technology with the daily renewable energy from the sun to be “the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space-conditioning system” available (U.S. EPA 1993).


Doug Hoffman (left), Senior Vice President/ Engineer at Gipe Associates in Easton MD, provided examples of how a local net-zero home is taking advantage of the efficiency and renewable energy that are at the foundation of GHP operation.  Sandy Wiggins, a Principal at Consilience in Washington DC described the role of the Living Building Challenge philosophy in the development of water conservation and efficient energy use systems at the new Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center being constructed by the Alice Ferguson Foundation at Accokeek, MD. 


It was clear from the presentations that the installation and operation of GHP heating and cooling systems benefit from bedrock, soil and groundwater conditions that are free of contamination.  GHP space-conditioning systems are an example of the critical importance of groundwater in our daily lives, and a reminder that we must manage the resource to reach sustainable outcomes that maintain its economic and environmental value. 



NEWS - March 2013 - AGWT AIPG Host Shale Gas Conference in Austin, TX


Lisa Molofsky is an environmental geologist with the firm GSI Environmental in Houston, TX who specializes in chemistry and stable and radiogenic isotopes. Lisa’s presentation  explained how detailed geochemical data is able to identify the origin of methane found in water wells.

Methane occurs naturally in 30% of ALL water wells in the US and was present in groundwater in many of the areas of recent shale-gas development long before any drilling took place.


Sharon Wilson, Earthworks Action, Allen, TX, a leading citizen expert in the Barnett Shale and Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas from Austin, TX both spoke about environmental issues and citizen concerns at the shale-gas conference.  The photograph shows them at “question-time” where they emphasized their views about the depth and breadth of citizen concerns and their opposition to the way many energy development operations were being conducted in Texas.  Earthworks Action is a national environmental organization.  Environment Texas is a citizen-funded organization that advocates for clean air, clean water and open spaces.

Steve Leifer, who worked for the US EPA for eleven years, is now an attorney with the firm Baker Botts LLP, Washington, DC .  He spoke at the Austin Conference about the many legal and litigation issues that have arisen related to the nation-wide development of shale-gas.  His presentation “ Hydraulic fracturing: Separating myth from reality” provided a summary of a broad range of legal case studies. He emphasized that the actual process of hydraulic fracturing has not been demonstrated in any legal settlement to have caused contamination problems.


Dr. Stephen Holditch, Head of the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M University was the closing keynote speaker at the Shale-Gas and Water Issues Conference held in Austin, TX.  His presentation emphasized the importance of  shale-gas operations following best practices.  Dr Holditch is recognized internationally as a leading expert on oil and gas drilling technology.

NEWS - February 13, 2013 - Students attend AGWA/AGWT Annual Conference

Pictured: Mary Jo DeSilva, Diane Stephens, Jackie Duenas, Cassidy Rungo, Paavo Ogren, Andrew Stone, Trevor Fedoruk, Sam Rodriguez, Areya Taheri, Janae Alvarez

American Ground Water Trust's Ground Water Institute for Teachers in Riverside, California last November was the first to include students in the two-day teacher training workshop. Arlington High School's Envirothon Team participated in the program designed to teach teachers how to apply exciting and practical "water science" to many traditional subject areas. The same team of students was invited to the Association of Ground Water Agencies (AGWA) & American Ground Water Trust's Alternative Water Resources for Southern California conference held last week in Ontario, CA, allowing the students to learn about critical water supply issues impacting Southern California.

Mary Jo De Silva, Envirothon Team Captain

Arlington High School Envirothon Team Captain Mary Jo De Silva addressed the 130 water managers and engineers who attended the conference.  She explained how the Envirothon Team was committed to understanding environmental issues.  She and the Envirothon Team recognized that the invitation to attend the Conference represented a terrific opportunity to hear from California’s water leaders about real-life environmental issues.

Ground Water Institute for Teachers Background

The first teacher training event, “Ground Water Institute for Teachers” was held in 2000 in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Since then, AGWT has convened 77 of the two-day environmental education programs for teachers and educators in 17 states, (including 15 in California, 13 in Texas, 13 in Florida and 10 in New England) with 2,000 teachers attending. The instructors for each Institute are educators themselves or are water professionals with hands-on experience in their field of expertise. We recognize that teachers in all grades must adhere to state standards and prescribed learning objectives, and so our approach - through class sessions, demonstrations, discussions and handouts - is to demonstrate how to integrate water topic subject matter into existing curricula. 

We believe that teachers who are excited about environmental education and who are provided with some training in water-related cause-and-effect will be more likely to effectively teach environmental concepts to their students with a positive and motivating style. Our Institutes motivates and focuses educators. There are thousands of school storerooms groaning with unused curriculum materials. The institutes get teachers fired up to make use of the materials that are already available.

Students made aware of the economic and environmental importance of water resources and aquatic habitat are likely to become motivated to protect and conserve resources. As future voting citizens we hope that they will recognize the connected and integrated nature of the environment and be empowered to play an active role in protecting resources for sustainable use. Many decision makers, whose actions impact water resources, did not grow up understanding the science basics of water management and protection. An appreciation of the role of water in our state environment and economy should now be part of the learning heritage of every adult and child. To be effective stewards of our water resources, there must be greater awareness and understanding of the science behind the resource.

To sponsor a Ground Water Institute, please call 603-288-5444. Without donations and sponsorships, we cannot support our critical mission.