By Patrick J. Dalee
A state, regional & national approach to industry fellowship
This past year as Water Quality Association (WQA) president, I was invited to speak at many state and regional conferences. My company displayed at many of these events in the past. With such a good year for our industry, I was surprised and disappointed to see state associations having a tough time, both with show attendance and membership. It’s vital our industry supports both national and state associations. Many important issues are dealt with at the state level. Texas and Florida had to battle to maintain a dealers’ right to install POU/POE water treatment equipment. The national WQA cannot fight all local issues nor respond as fast as is often needed. On larger issues, it takes two organizations working together, as demonstrated so successfully by WQA and the Pacific WQA in dealing with California brine discharge issues. We’re developing a task force to address new membership marketing efforts, revitalize regional and state shows, enhance educational programs and promote WQA professional certification.
I’m happy to report the WQA lab is now recognized by all states that require third party certification for product performance. WQA executive director Peter Censky, technical director Joe Harrison and lab director Tom Palkon have worked together to turn our lab into a first-class facility. WQA and NSF International signed an agreement last year allowing “reciprocal acceptance” of test results generated by either side. We’re currently completing the same type of agreement with Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Manufacturers will be able to earn the NSF and WQA Gold Seal or the UL and Gold Seal with one set of lab results.
The Materials Safety Task Force is working to revise NSF Standard 61 to include POU and POE products. We need to reduce the material safety cost burden on our testing protocol, which will greatly enhance the certification process. It’s still a goal of WQA to have all of our industry’s products tested and certified to manufacturers’ performance claims. Reducing costs will encourage both small and large manufacturers to get products certified.
Our Public Relations Program this year was a great success. We plan to build on last year’s news blitz with an emphasis on integrating local members into the campaign. A new WQA National Consumer Attitude Survey will be initiated in our Satellite Media Tour during National Drinking Water Week (NDWW) in May. We’ll continue to use physical trainer Bob Greene as our national spokesperson and produce a five-minute video for dealers to use at their office, home shows and fairs.
We also plan on taking a proactive approach to heterotrophic plate count (HPC) bacteria and arsenic issues. HPC informational material—whether literature or videotape—will be made available to members as a preventative measure in case this breaks out as a public issue. The new arsenic rule will generate media attention. WQA will put together a media/public educational packet on arsenic and POU/POE technology. We’ll let influential news outlets know we have experts on the subject available for interviews for news or feature stories, including Harrison during our NDWW promotion.
It’s a privilege to be WQA president, especially considering how important our industry and WQA have been to my family through several generations. WQA does so many things to promote and serve its members. I want to encourage you all to support our association with your time and money. I look forward to seeing you at this year’s convention in Orlando, Fla., in March.