Robert Ruhstorfer, 2002-03 WQA President & President, Aquion Partners, L.P.

As I look back on my term as Water Quality Association (WQA) president, I’m filled with a great sense of optimism and accomplishment. We achieved so much in 2002 and there’s so much to look forward to in 2003.

Our industry is at the forefront of providing one of life’s most basic necessities—quality water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing and other household needs as well as for use in light commercial and industrial applications. With a finite supply of water and almost limitless demand, the need for our products, knowledge and leadership continues to grow.

In 2002, we continued to work with government, members and the public to enhance our industry’s reputation and ensure regulations are practical and based on sound science. Some highlights include:

  • California brine reduction issues—With California Senate Bill 1006’s final phase taking effect next year, under certain conditions, municipalities will be able to put in place regulations on brine discharge from automatic regeneration of water conditioners. Thanks to WQA, municipalities will have to follow sensible guidelines in forming their codes. Although Senate Bill 1006 was a critical win, we still face challenges on related issues.
  • Septic tank discharge—WQA is working to reverse a septic tank discharge ban in Texas and succeeded in doing so in Kentucky. It’s working to prevent similar legislation in New Hampshire and West Virginia.
  • European standards—Our European colleagues have been actively involved in writing industry standards for the European Union. WQA has supported the efforts of the European water improvement industry to secure sensible regulation.
  • California Equipment Certification—Working with the California Department of Health Services, WQA continues to clarify and streamline the process for complying with California’s Water Treatment Device Certification Law.
  • Strategic planning process—We’re finishing the strategic planning process, which will restructure WQA to better meet the needs of a 21st century water improvement industry. This plan will outline the most far-reaching changes and initiatives since WQA’s formation in 1974. A draft plan is scheduled to be posted on the WQA website. It will be presented to the WQA Board of Directors at its meeting in March for final approval.
  • Annual conference reconfiguration—As members requested, WQA shortened the conference by a day to make it more convenient.
  • Dues restructuring—A few years ago, WQA restructured dues for dealer members. This year, WQA restructured dues for manufacturers/suppliers to better recognize their position in the organization and enhance the financial health of WQA.
  • Consumer research—WQA is preparing to engage in a consumer research project that will benefit every member. The research will provide insights into consumer wants, needs and attitudes that will be valuable to our broad membership. Members who want to fund more specific research can piggyback onto the WQA program and receive proprietary reports.

For more information on these issues and many others, visit

As our industry continues to evolve, WQA and its membership will change with it. WQA is the natural forum for the entire industry to discuss common issues, formulate positions and speak with a strong, unified voice. The battles of the future are just too large to fight alone. We’re all in it together—bottled water, commercial, industrial, household and community water systems. The broader the base, the louder our voice.

WQA has always relied on an active membership to move its agenda forward. Many of us are business competitors, but we come together for the good of the industry. That’s something in which we should take pride and endeavor to preserve. WQA is only as good as the members who give it their time and effort. It’s a responsibility everyone in the industry must share.

This past year has been such an honor and a pleasure for me. I’ve enjoyed working with the phenomenal staff at WQA and its members, especially those who participated on committees and boards. When you see firsthand how much energy and experience WQA is marshaling for our cause, you can’t help but feel optimistic.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as WQA president. It’s an experience that has reinforced my belief in our industry and what we can accomplish together. I look forward to seeing you at the conference in Las Vegas next month. I think you’ll leave it as excited as I am about the tremendous potential of our industry and the WQA.


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