By Anthony Ferrell
The year was 2014, and I just received news that I was the recipient of the Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship. Being a geology undergraduate student, this was a major opportunity for me and the fortune of receiving this award could help to kick off my future career. Choosing which companies to work for was difficult, because I wanted to see and do it all, but only had a limited amount of time allotted by the program. In the end I chose the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), Clear Creek Associates, and Brown and Caldwell.
My summer program started off with taking the OSHA HAZWOPER training course. I was grateful for the opportunity to become certified, so when I began my internships I would be able to go on-site and participate in field-related tasks. During the 40 hour training program I learned everything from how to identify hazardous materials and what risks they have to how to respond to hazardous waste spills. Other subjects that were discussed included the use of personal protective equipment, containment, control procedures for materials as well as decontamination procedures. The training concluded with a mock spill exercise.
My first host organization was ADWR, where on the first day Dave Christiana provided me with an extensive background about water in Arizona. He explained ADWR operations and my assignments. Dave went out of his way to make sure there was something for me to do and see every day I was with ADWR. The next day I went out with Paul Ivanich to fix a broken transducer located at a well in Harquahala. We discovered that it was more than a simple transducer problem. We had to replace the battery, the solar charge plate, the data logger, and then finally the transducer. After this, I went out to the Queen Creek area with Brian Conway where we collected subsidence measurements. We also looked at some major earth fissures which were caused by subsidence. The next week I spent most of my time in the office learning about groundwater permitting, groundwater modeling, recharge, Assured Water Supply requirements, the National Flood Insurance Program, Dam Safety and Inspections, international water issues, floodplain management, and Colorado River management. I also had another chance to go out into the field to install a well transducer and concrete slab. We began by installing a PVC sounding tube inside the well casing. Next we installed the transducer cable, exterior casing and solar panel, and finished by hooking up the data logger to the power supply, in this case a battery.
For my second host organization, Doug Bartlett at Clear Creek Associates was very welcoming and introduced me to the staff where I learned about their day-to-day activities and the types of field work they perform. The first field excursion was in Coolidge, AZ, where Russell Granfors and I worked with Arizona Water Company to test the site for a potential recharge facility. This involved filling an existing twenty foot by twenty foot hole in the ground with water and taking piezometer measurements, as well as monitoring the flow rate with a meter. Later that week I was paired up with Riley Trickey and we went to work on a well installation located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation. Once on-site I learned about drill rigs and got to see them in action. Riley showed me an efficient method of lithological logging when you are drilling through mostly alluvium and sedimentary rocks. The following week we returned to the site and conducted zonal sampling using the slug test (falling head test) method with a transducer for data gathering. I also observed geophysical testing performed by Southwest Exploration.
After a busy three weeks I headed over to Brown and Caldwell for my final host organization where Brandon McLean introduced me to everyone. They provided me with my own office where I read through some completed project reports and health and safety plans to familiarize myself with their work and safety requirements. My first field excursion was on a Phase I site survey with Tim Miller. We went to Queen Creek and inspected a piece of property looking for old wells, staining of soils indicating contamination on the surface, and possible vents for underground tanks. Later in the week I had a chance to meet with Barbara Sylvester who explained details of groundwater monitoring at landfills and large mining operations. Barbara uses a computer system to maintain data which can be accessed, viewed, and checked for discrepancies that might require field improvements or treatment. One item Barbara stressed about groundwater is to “Know thy permit”, in regards to all the laws that surround and govern groundwater. Next I went to Coolidge, AZ, where I recorded well depth measurements and observed development of the monitor wells with Chad Haley. Later, at the same site I was able to observe groundwater treatment using PersulfOx injections with Bret Esslin. The following week I returned with Bret for soil vapor testing. Also in Coolidge I observed drilling of several confirmation borings and familiarized myself with the equipment used for that work. I finished my time at Brown and Caldwell with a trip to Casa Grande, AZ for Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) groundwater monitoring including water level measurements and collection of groundwater samples with Mike Orcutt.
The AHS Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship provided me the opportunity for firsthand knowledge of concepts covered in my classes, and a glimpse into real world application of the concepts. It is hard to put into words how grateful I am for having received this award. I would like to thank my friends and family for their support and encouragement. I would like to thank ADWR staff including Dave Christiana, Paul Ivanich, Brian Conway, Vineetha Kartha, Tito Comparan, Mike Lacey, Mike Johnson, Maureen Towne, Keith Nelson, and Hugo Perea. I would like to thank Clear Creek Associates staff including Doug Bartlett, Lori Bartlett, Riley Trickey, Horus Nelson, Marvin Glotfelty, and Russell Granfors. I would like to thank Brown and Caldwell staff including Brandon McLean, Ryan Sanders, Barbara Sylvester, Chad Haley, Bret Esslin, Mike Orcutt, and Tim Miller. You were all very accommodating and helpful, and you excel in your chosen fields. I hope to one day be in your shoes. A special thanks to the Arizona Hydrological Society Foundation and Central Arizona Project for providing this opportunity not only to me, but for all the recipients year after year. This internship has helped pave the way for my future in hydrogeology!