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Groundwater Solutions Group LLC

Groundwater Solutions Group is a network of groundwater professionals dedicated to improving and preserving groundwater quality. The head of Groundwater Solutions Group LLC is Tom Christopherson. Tom is a third-generation ground water professional. He grew in the family owned business that was started by his grandfather Elmer and father Burton. He and his brother Bill co-owned B. G. Christopherson and Sons Inc located in eastern Nebraska. Utilizing tools fashioned by his grandfather, a highly skilled blacksmith, Tom’s father, built his business through the philosophy that anything man made will need to be fixed, innovation of the industry is always happening, and neighbors help neighbors. By learning the skills his forefathers taught him, Burton taught his sons the value of hard work, new ideas, and providing high quality service for water systems. Together the family built the business through innovation and by embracing emerging technologies in the groundwater industry to install and service privately owned water systems.

Tom joined the State of Nebraska Department of Health in 1994 as part of the new Water Well Standards and Contractors Licensing Program. As part of a new program that was designed to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Nebraska through pump installation, well construction and decommissioning regulation, he was able to bring his experience as a groundwater professional to his new job as a field inspection water supply specialist. During this time the State of Nebraska was concerned that nitrate concentrations were rising in groundwater testing of the public water supply wells throughout the State. The Water Well Standards and Contractors Licensing Board, in collaboration with the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, University of Nebraska and the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality commissioned the study of the Nebraska Grout Task Force to determine if the well grouting standards were adequate to protect groundwater from pollution. Tom was named as a member of the Nebraska Grout Task Force (NGTF) and subsequent Annular Space Research Task Force (ASRTF) and was appointed the project lead and spokesperson for both projects. In 2003 Tom was promoted to manage the Water Well Standards Contractors and Licensing Program.

The results of the Nebraska Grout Task Force revealed that well grouting properties were not performing as anticipated and that proper grouting involved more than just adequate mixing and application. Because of the state’s diverse geologic make-up and dynamic soils and subsurface conditions it was learned that grouts must be matched to the different soil and subsoil conditions to provide adequate protection. Based on the findings of this study the State of Nebraska revised its well construction regulations and adopted the most protective, practical standards of anywhere in the country. The revised standards took effect in 2009 for public water supply wells, and 2014 for all other water wells installed for private domestic use, irrigation, livestock, dewatering, and commercial use. Because of the ground-breaking findings of the NGTF, Tom was selected by the National Ground Water Association as the 2011 McEllhieny Distinguished Lecturer to share the findings of this research with 26 other states and 3 foreign countries, Australia, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Through this effort several other states were able to modify their well construction standards to protect their own ground water reservoirs.

However, the water well registration database for the State identifies at least 97,000 irrigations wells that were installed before the protective standards were adopted. That led to another study to determine if the existing water wells in Nebraska could be retro-fitted with adequate grouts to prevent further contamination of the States largest natural resource. The Annular Space Research Task Force was formed in 2013 and studied the retrofitting of grout seals in wells constructed of steel, concrete, transite, and PVC casing. The study found and developed methods of perforate the casing and place seals in a strategic area of the borehole. Water testing of chosen research wells helped to determine that successful placement the grout seals of an existing wells is possible. In every site chosen for this research water quality has improved. Further study indicates that wells that were decommissioned and abandoned prior to 2014 can provide a preferential pathway for contamination to enter the groundwater even though the well has been sealed on the inside. Once these wells were properly decommissioned by placing a grout seal in the gravel packed column the water quality of active wells in the area improved substantially. As a result of this research project the National Ground Water Association chose the Nebraska Department of Health and its representative, Tom Christopherson, as winners of the Outstanding Ground Water Protection Project of 2017.

As a group the Groundwater Solutions Group LLC is poised to take the methods and technologies developed in both the Nebraska Grout Task Force and the Nebraska Annular Space Research Task Force and apply them for the preservation of groundwater. Our group has specialized individuals with the experience and knowledge that helped make the research project so successful.