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Remembering C.W. “Bill” Fetter

Author: The Author
Date: December 5, 2011

Contributed by Craig Sandefur, Vice-President of Technical Services, REGENESIS

In my opinion, the recent passing of C.W. “Bill” Fetter marks a significant loss to the Groundwater Remediation industry. Bill Fetter had a long academic career as a staff member at the Department of Geology at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh 1971-1996 where he taught hydrogeology. He also practiced contaminant hydrogeology as an environmental consultant for a number of years. It was in his academic role and through two key publications that Fetter influenced a whole generation of groundwater remediation engineers and scientists. In 1980, he authored the classic groundwater textbook “Applied Hydrogeology.” This text remains in publication (in a 4th edition), and recent reviews of this book on Amazon.com indicate that it still serves as both a textbook for students and a resource for many working professionals… including myself. In 1992, Fetter published “Contaminant Hydrogeology,” which was a natural extension of his previous book. Now, some may argue that the classic “Applied Hydrogeology” has too many errors and typo’s or that “Contaminant Hydrogeology” is too stilted and case study driven, for me it is easy to set aside the “errors” and the style issues to see the brilliance of Fetter. I truly appreciate his ability to provide a vast amount of information (some of it fairly complex) in a clear and concise manner. I also think it was his ability to use a “just right” blend of words, figures and equations in a powerful way that readers of all levels found to be useful and appealing. Finding the right balance of math and language is very hard to do but I think Fetter generally got it right. Subsequent to him, many authors have produced some very good work by emulating his style. However, Fetter was the original and his writings will undoubtedly continue to influence a significant number of groundwater remediation professionals for years to come.