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Tomorrow and Beyond - Earth Data Inc.: Leaving the World a Better Place

By Amelia Blades Steward

Left: Earth Data performs a deep geophysical log. Right: Mark Williams, a Certified Well Driller (CWD) and Pump Installed (PI) by the National Groundwater Association, stands with a new drilling rig at Earth Data’s office in Centreville.

Mark Williams, President of Earth Data Incorporated headquartered in Centreville, Maryland is a self-professed “engineer by training and well driller by the grace of God.”

The company which provides field-oriented water resources and geospatial consulting services using high-tech tools to collect, analyze, manage, and distribute data in sophisticated ways, just landed the biggest contract of its 46-year history. Earth Data was recently selected by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District as lead consultant for its Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow (SWIFT) recharge and monitoring well services project, which is thought to be one of the largest drilling projects in the United States.

“This job was written for us. It is the culmination of my life’s work,” reflects Williams.

Earth Data Incorporated was founded in 1974 by Tucker Moorshead. It provided field-oriented environmental services just as the Clean Water Act of 1972 was signed and America was beginning to clean up its contaminated groundwater. In 2000, Mark Williams joined the company. He had been working in the well-drilling construction arena when he met Morehead on a project in Anne Arundel County. Williams brought his 17 years of technical and corporate skills to the job and enhanced the company’s standing as a small business. In 2005, Williams became President of Earth Data and by the end of 2013 purchased the company from Moorshead.

Williams recalls, “I told our employees, I was not buying it to own it, but buying it to grow it. I knew we were good groundwater scientists, but I wanted to take the company to places we hadn’t been.”

Earth Data’s early win was realizing that the company name opened it up to do other things — instead of just collecting data from the surface of the earth down, the company could collect data from the surface up. About the same time, Williams met a colleague with geospatial experience, leading Williams to hire him to expand the company’s geospatial data work.

“My faith is very important to me. I knew it was the right thing for the company to step out in this new direction, even though initially we didn’t have contracts to pay him. My wife Suellen believed in me and my vision and we managed until 2016 when we won a multi-million Federal Government contract for geographic information system (GIS) services in a support of the Warfighter effort for the Army Geospatial Center. That put the ‘new’ Earth Data on the map.”

With 46 years of experience and having completed more than 5,100 projects, Earth Data was selected this year by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District as lead consultant for its Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow recharge and monitoring well services project. Williams’ plans for the company were finally realized. Earth Data was the only small business to contend for this highly coveted project. The project includes planning services, design services, contract administration, geophysical logging services, and field engineering and testing services for approximately 70 recharge wells and 30 monitoring wells. The Southeastern Virginia based project is expected to last 10 to 12 years and will ultimately recharge the Potomac Aquifer with up to 100 million gallons per day of SWIFT Water® — wastewater treated to meet drinking water standards and be compatible with the characteristics of the aquifer.

Left: The derrick of one of the drilling rigs. Big Water Project: 2,400 gallons per minute (gpm) of clean water being pumped out of a well for which Earth Data provided design services and construction management and inspection services.

Two pictures of the same thing in the Earth Data parking lot last summer — one a regular image and one a thermal image.

“In business, we face the fear of the known or the fear of the unknown. At Earth Data, we are continuing to evolve, grow, and change — we are risk-takers, moving and adapting to new things,” comments Williams.

“My number one rule of life is to treat every living being with dignity and respect. I believe we need to leave the world a better place than we found it. At Earth Data, we are more than data. We are people who work hard and want to help, not only our clients, but our community.”

In addition to giving back through its environmental work, the Earth Data Giving Program encourages all Earth Data Incorporated employees to help others. It provides employees with paid public-service hours for volunteer work done to support local charities and others, such as helping feed school kids on the weekends, cleaning hiking trails, supporting elementary school reading programs, and teaching kids about the world around them by using maps and GIS.

“Our employees make a difference, and we support their efforts. I am proud of the path we have taken to give back to the community. God has blessed me immeasurably and this is another way of giving back,” Williams adds.

For further information, visit earthdatainc.com.

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