By: Danielle Jessup, CMP
I have had the pleasure of working with the Florida Ground Water Association (FGWA) since 2012. I started off as their Program Manager and just a few short years later, became the Executive Director. This association was formed and chartered in 1935 by a group of well drilling contractors who wanted to further the principles of the industry and protect Florida’s water resources. FGWA officially became a 501(c)(6) not for profit organization in 1979 and has been managed by Partners in Association Management since 2006.
With the assistance of FGWA and several other state associations, the National Water Well Association was formed in 1948. Also in 1972, the Florida Association was instrumental in the passage of the Florida State Licensing Act (Dept. of Natural Resources HB2968) under which the industry is now governed.
The FGWA’s mission is near and dear to my heart. As a young child who grew up on the water, I was taught to volunteer for beach clean-ups, find ways to conserve water, use non-toxic products as much as possible, etc. I didn’t fully understand back then just how important this precious resource was, but now that I have a child of my own, I feel it is my duty to teach him the same values. Having the opportunity to work with this client has opened my eyes even more to how important the association is for its members and industry professionals that we serve.
The FGWA has grown into the largest groundwater association in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the nation. With over 700 members who are committed to the industry, we have built a voice and a legislative presence and are recognized by the state’s five Water Management Districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as a major and knowledgeable stakeholder in the protection and management of Florida’s groundwater resources.
The FGWA has also grown over the years to give back to its members and other organizations in need. Since its inception in 1976, the FGWA Scholarship Fund has granted over 152 college scholarships totaling over $129,000. The funds are given to students who are relatives of FGWA members to support their continuing education. In addition in 2008, FGWA adopted Operation Helping Hand (OHH) as its official charity for its Annual Golf Tournament. The charity has received over $35,000 from the association and its members.
I’d like to tell you a little bit more about FGWA’s members as they are the heart and soul of this association. The FGWA is run by a 14-member board. These individuals are truly dedicated to the association and the industry. Some of them have served on the board for over a decade and others who have rotated off are still very actively involved. These 14 members are the backbone of the association. Not included in the 14 board members, but just as active if not more, is our full-time lobbyist. We also have over 120 individual vendor companies that are members of the association. These companies attend our Annual Convention year after year as a sponsor and/or exhibitor. They have helped to grow our Annual Convention and Trade Show into one of the largest in the nation for groundwater. The additional 600 members include but are not limited to water well contractors, pump installers, scientists, engineers, and individuals studying or teaching subject matter embracing the water well industry.
A Year for Celebration!
In 2020, the FGWA will celebrate its 85th anniversary as well host its 80th Annual Convention & Trade Show.
In 2003, the FGWA was granted The Florida Water Well Contractor Continuing Education Program (CE Program), also known as Florida Water Well Administrator (FWWA). This program was instituted by the FDEP to implement continuing education requirements for the Water Well Contractors Licensing Program. The CE Program is designed to encourage the learning of new well drilling technologies, methods and practices, improve the industry’s professionalism, business management practices, health and safety practices and to enhance learning of the State of Florida water well contractor licensing, permitting and water well construction rules. The program manages over 800 active water well contractors and over 200 individuals seeking licensure. Since the inception of the program, the FGWA has been awarded the contract 3 consecutive times and is working on making it number 4!
This association is one to keep an eye on. The passion these members have for protecting our most precious resource will be one that will continue to grow as they teach others the importance of protecting our water. I am grateful to be a part of this association and to work with such a wonderful group of professionals. Partners, as well as myself, look forward to many more years of partnership.