National Ground Water Association (NGWA)

McEllhiney Lecturer says proper water well development critical to well performance

NEW ORLEANS — The process of “well development” is critical to optimizing well performance, yet too often it is not given proper priority in the overall well construction, said the 2010 NGWREF McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer Mike H. Mehmert in his inaugural lecture at the 2009 NGWA Ground Water Expo and Annual Meeting.

Well development is the procedure used to facilitate the removal of fine solids and materials from the water-bearing zone of a water well to optimize production.

“This is probably one of the most important aspects of completing a well, but sometimes there’s relatively more attention paid to the materials used, the design and the drilling method. Some contractors think about how fast they can drill because time is money, but if they leave the well owner with an inefficient product, it costs him a lot of money in the long run” because of customer dissatisfaction, he said.

Mehmert has 38 years experience in groundwater industry consulting, contracting, and manufacturing. Currently he is director of sales and marketing/well products at Johnson Screens, a Weatherford company.

While some contractors approach well development as one step, Mehmert said he views it as a process.

“Start with a method and when the water clears up, then go to a method that works it over better. Once you’ve gone through the toolkit of methods at your disposal and can’t extract anymore debris or damage or drill mud, then you’re probably there,” he said.

A common well development mistake is not matching the best methods to the well design. Conversely, matching well development methods to well design can produce superior results.

“If the well has a thick gravel pack, using a nonphosphate dispersant can really soak out into that area, break down the polysaccharides in the drilling fluid, and go a long way in loosening up what you need to get out,” he said.

Ideally, Mehmert said the goal of development is to correct the negative effects of the drilling process and restore or improve the hydraulic properties at the borehole within the screen zone. Sometimes, however, the contractor’s well development options are restricted by the well design specifications. Other times contractors restrict themselves.

Mehmert urges contractors to go the extra mile to properly develop a well.

“Are we doing the best we can for the customer and the industry,” asked Mehmert, adding sometimes it may be necessary for a contractor to remain on the job site longer than anticipated to properly develop the well. “You don’t want any customer saying you didn’t give it your best shot.”

To learn more about the William A. McEllhiney Distinguished Lecture Series, click here. To learn more about the many other NGWA educational progams offered, click here or call 800 551.7379 (614 898.7791).

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