November 2021 Vol. 76 No. 11

Editor's Log

HDD Reunion Returns in 2022

By Robert Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

Back by popular demand! The Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) Reunion returns to UCT in 2022. The Reunion will be held on Wednesday, Jan 26, 4:45 p.m., at the Fort Worth Convention Center. 

In conjunction with the Reunion, the annual HDD 2022 Hall of Fame Class will be honored. Inductees are legendary mud man Frank Canon and trailblazing HDD design engineer John Hair. 

The first reunion, held in 2020, far exceeded all expectations. As we prepared to open the doors to the event, I surveyed the long trail of people wrapping around the hallways. I immediately proceeded to the main bar and grew concerned about the supply of beer. 

“I assume you can get plenty more quickly?” I asked one of the bartenders. He calmly smiled, being a veteran of many parties and receptions. “Sure, and if we run a little short, I’ll just run downstairs to storage and bring up a little extra,” he said, attempting to placate my concerns 

As people continued to pack the room, I nervously stood by a bar and finally got the attention of the long line of attendees waiting to be served and bellowed out to the packed audience, “If I yell ‘fire marshal’ I need everybody on this side of the room to get out the back door – fast!” Everyone laughed, not realizing I was serious. I yelled emphatically “no, I’m serious – we’ve overbooked,” which got another round of laughter. I gave up. 

About an hour later when the crowded sea of people continued to roll around the HDD Reunion room like a tsunami, I found myself back over by the main bar. I smiled smugly as I saw that same bartender coming in the back door with more cases of beverage as he had been forced to do since the beginning of the Reunion. Watching him sweat, I couldn’t help but perversely reflect that he should have listened; I know the HDD audience. It was just that kind of an event. 

This year, we’ll have a better-sized room to be sure. Like the first reunion, this event is an opportunity to bring all the seasoned, current and future drillers together for a look back – and forward – at the amazing HDD industry. Whether your company operates smaller rigs installing fiber or large rigs putting in steel pipe, whether you are long-since retired or a recent entry into the market, this is an event that honors the HDD industry 

Infrastructure Bill 

At press time, the Great Infrastructure Bill of ’22 was still being held in limbo by Congress as liberal versus moderate Democrats continued to battle over how best to advance their agenda past entrenched Republicans. The Infrastructure Bill was essentially a pawn over the battle for the fabled Reconciliation Bill, the latest version of a “great society” plan being advanced by President Biden. 

Still, most pundits and experts predicted the Infrastructure Bill would finally advance this fall – perhaps already has. I sincerely hope so, as I believe we all grow weary of Washington power struggles with little benefit for the country. 

Regardless, increased federal funding is coming to underground infrastructure markets and at UCT 2022 in Fort Worth, we’ll have two panels specifically spelling out funding plans and impacts. One panel will cover sewer/water funding (“Landmark Year for Water/Sewer Infrastructure”), and another will provide the fiber and 5G construction outlook (“Fiber Construction Forecast: FTTP, 5G”). Both should provide key insights into those important market plans for the next several years. 

MVP announced 

For anyone familiar with the first, billion-dollar-plus EPA consent decree, the name Gary Oradat will stand out. When the city of Houston Wastewater Program kicked off in the ‘90s, a direct result of the consent decree, it set the stage for the way many cities would approach their mandated programs. 

An essential cog in that benchmark program was Gary N. Oradat. He became extremely well-respected for his problem-solving focus, engineering expertise, ability to roll with the punches, and foresight to help keep the program progressing on-time and -budget. 

Gary retired from the city of Houston in 2004 as deputy director. He joined the Coastal Water Authority as chief engineer and advanced to executive director. One of his key accomplishments was launching and serving as project manager for the $300-million Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project. After a stint in private engineering consulting, Gary joined the Trinity River Authority in 2019 to serve as executive manager of the newly developed Planning, Design and Construction Administration team. 

Gary’s integrity and dedication to improving the infrastructure industry, through his active participation and leadership in various industry groups and associations, is renowned. He epitomizes the definition of the Most Valuable Professional Award. 

The 2022 MVP ceremony will be part of the special luncheon on Jan. 25, in conjunction with the annual UCT Conference & Exhibition, in Fort Worth, Texas. To attend or sponsor the MVP Award Luncheon, details are available on the UCTA website: 

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