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The Water Well Industry suffered a great loss with the death of Maurice Lewis in December. For over 20 years Maurice worked on instructing and advocating the need for accessible safe water, reiterated in this his last article.As I sit here and write this article the snow is falling, heralding the onset of another Canadian winter. Actually the snow is very welcome here in Western Canada where the Canadian Ground Water Association (CGWA) is located, because we have had two years of below average rainfall and two winters with very little snowfall. This has not boded well for the agricultural sector.
Walkerton, in the minds of many, highlighted the need for training and certification for people in the delivery of safe drinking water. Two years prior to the incident, the Canadian Ground Water Association recognised this need and began the process of establishing a certification program for groundwater drilling technicians and pump technicians (installers). The Walkerton incident gave impetus to the certification program, and in March 2001 the first examinations were taken.
This is not a training program per se but alliances and mutual cooperation
agreements with educational institutions have developed.
In North America there are 4 colleges with water well driller training programs. Two are located in Canada and two in the US.
Although the Canadian programs were developed separately of each other, the course content is strikingly comparable. At Red Deer College in Alberta the course is delivered internationally as distance learning or provincially in apprenticeship format. Students in the Apprenticeship program are indentured apprentices working under a journeyman water well driller. To obtain water well driller journeyman status under this program the apprentice student must attend two periods of technical training, pass all examinations and complete 3600 hours (2 years) of work in the trade, under a supervising journeyman. At Sir Sanford Fleming College, Ontario, the two year vocational course offers classroom, shop and hands-on field instruction.
Two Canadian provinces require water well drillers to be journeymen before they can obtain a licence or permit to drill water wells. This is now receiving more attention as regulators and the industry recognise the need for a competent, trained workforce.
Red Deer College has also been modulising the training program it had been delivering under the Alberta Apprenticeship into packages for distance learning. The Water Well Driller program and Pump Installer program are now training students in New York, California, and Australia.
As well as offering distance training to the Canadian Ground Water Association, Red Deer College realised that it would be beneficial to establish an alliance whereby the college's distance education package would be an excellent learning resource for people wanting to write the certification examinations. In exchange, the College recognised the industry expertise and connections available through the CGWA.
Last year, the CGWA offered the certification examinations to almost all regions of Canada. Groundwater drilling technicians and pump technicians are the 'front line people' in delivering a product that is almost instantly used for human consumption. Therefore industry people must be knowledgeable and competent to manage, protect and deliver the resource to their clients.
This article was kindly approved by Dianne Lewis on behalf of her husband who
will be fondly remembered as a devoted family man, respected water well driller,
instructor, mentor and an advocate for clean accessible water.