18 september 2020
Brandon Stone was a missionary in 2010 when he experienced a calling. In Haiti, a lack of clean drinking water caused a severe cholera outbreak, and he quickly found himself running a clinic.
“I saw many people die because they didn’t have clean water,” Stone said. After his mission work, he joined Living Water International, a non-profit that works on clean water projects. He worked as a driller and eventually in organizational management that took him to Nicaragua.
In 2014 Stone met Michael Montgomery, who had experience in oil and gas and wanted to change the water well industry through leadership and technical excellence. Montgomery and Stone formed HydroLOGICA, based in Nicaragua. “We want to share our knowledge and expertise to tackle the global water crisis.”
They do this in part with an Epiroc TH10LM drilling rig by their side.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What does Nicaragua look like geologically, and what would be the most appropriate rig?’ Based on my experience,” Stone said, “I wanted a rig that could get to difficult locations. We wanted a simple rig. Don’t get me wrong - I love electronics but electronics in the middle of nowhere? It’s not a good mix.”
Stone said, “With minimal effort, no electronics, and without fear of anything breaking down, I drill mud for the first 200 feet, swap hoses, fire up the compressor, and keep going with air. The drilling community appreciates that.
"Everybody likes fancy electronics, but durability and ease of maintenance is something we love."
Stone can source locally available parts for the TH10 LM if needed. It has proven to be a workhorse for the company, “I do check the temperatures on it, and even here, it’s always under control,” Stone said. They are averaging 290-foot wells, but have drilled up to 700 ft deep and 8-to-12-inch diameter holes.
Stone said, “There is so little data of Nicaraguan geology, we regularly do geophysics and hydrogeological investigations. We have been able to locate higher-production wells.”
It’s typical for other drillers to take a week to a month to complete wells, but not HydroLOGICA. “We show up on site. In half a day, we set up an extra day to drill out the overburden, throw a hammer on that thing, and go fishing the next day. In three days, we’ve completed a well,” Stone said. “People ask us, ‘Hey, are you guys going to get started?’ and we say, ‘We’re already done.’”
Clean water is a prerequisite to development, education, and increased income. According to the World Health Organization, 844 million people worldwide lack access to drinking water. Every day, more than 800 children under age 5 die from diarrhea attributed to poor water and sanitation.
"When we drill a well for a farm, that doesn’t only impact the farm’s production. It also generates jobs and wealth in the surrounding communities - economic development."
A basic thing as clean water becomes special when it is new to a community. For instance, in Las Palomas, a 2019 study by OneWorld Health: Nicaragua measured the effectiveness of a new well completed by HydroLOGICA. Residents’ stool and urine were tested before and after the new well. There was a 76.6 percent decrease in the prevalence of parasitic cysts in the study population. The study also found a 100 percent improved bacterial flora.
“Most wells in the area are like 5 gallons a minute or they just dry up,” Stone said. “When you come in with a drill like the TH10LM and proper technique, you can drill a well that gives 50 gallons a minute, so people have enough water for drinking and to bathe and shower. That’s the goal: dignity.”
Although work has slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stone sees repeat customers who know and trust his work. “I trust that more contracts are coming down the line. More than ever, it’s crucial to ensure access to clean water in rural communities.”
Stone said that in Nicaragua, 30 percent of rural communities don’t have access to an improved water source. That’s 800,000 people. He looks forward to pushing on with his mission to make clean water accessible to all.