By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
Now and again, it’s good to try something new. Holding the Water Quality Association’s Mid-Year Leadership Conference in conjunction with the World Wide Food Expo (WWFE) in Chicago was just such a good idea. That’s because the International Bottled Water Association, which merged its convention and exhibition with the event for the first time Oct. 28-30, 2003, had offered space at its pavilion, not to mention its central location made it easier for WQA members to attend.
Meat, potatoes and milk
Still, the enormity of the WWFE and breadth of market segments represented was a bit overwhelming. Other sponsors included the American Meat Institute (AMI), International Association of Food Industry Suppliers (IAFIS), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI). The show featured more than 1,500 exhibitors on 1.2 million square feet of floor space that drew more than 28,000 attendees. In other words, it was easy to get lost.
As a grand experiment, it was a nice diversion from the usual. But most agreed that, while IBWA shares many things in common with WQA that makes it a more likely partner, the WWFE wasn’t necessarily the best fit. Overlapping events between the two organizations also made it difficult to attend all the meetings. Regardless, current logistics make the IBWA more of a future option—2005 or later, if WQA members remain interested in some form of event partnering, according to Jeannine Collins, WQA meetings and convention director. That’s because IBWA is committed this year to hosting BevExpo along with IDFA, the International Association of Food Industry Suppliers, and Beverage Marketing Corp. in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Testing the waters
This was the first opportunity to test drive the new WQA committee structure since its unveiling at the Las Vegas convention in March. You’ll recall the WQA Strategic Plan framework presented in 2002 calls for reducing the number of committees from 30 to four—Water Sciences, Government Relations, Market Development and Member Services. The objective is to streamline WQA functions and funnel priority setting and decision-making to the four umbrella committees, the board of governors (BOG) and board of directors (BOD) as well as the Manufacturers, Retail Dealers, Consumer Products, International and Commercial/Industrial sections. Most debate in various sessions was over how issues, tasks and general work would be organized and assigned in the new hierarchy.
The first step in setting goals is to submit a “Task Control Form” or documents (TCDs) to WQA staff for consideration by the BOG. A number of the forms already were submitted, most notably by the International Section and Government Relations Committee. There was some concern a flood of these forms would overwhelm staff and the BOG and how they should be prioritized, whether by the sections, staff or Strategic Planning Committee. Each committee and section generally came up with its own way of handling the process as well as prioritizing “burning issues” from the Las Vegas convention and earlier meetings. Some, like HydroTech’s Mike Baird, warned these various methods should be standardized before the convention in Baltimore to make sure the process was uniform and orderly, allowing association work to move forward.
The Water Sciences Committee, headed by Culligan’s Frank Brigano, seemed to have a leg up on this process since its predecessor—the Science Advisory Committee—already acted as an umbrella group for various technical committees and task forces that existed before. “Our intent is to keep task group sizes manageable—four or five people,” Brigano said. “The key is these will be working groups. We will define a timeline. The idea is to see that it eventually ends. It doesn’t go on forever. If the issue needs to be addressed further, then we’ll ask that a new Task Control Form gets filled out.”
Good Water Warehouse’s Pat Dalee noted that the TCDs could also serve as a way for WQA members to voice their opinions moreso than in the past “if they’re not happy about the way WQA is proceeding or not on a particular issue. For a lot of people who may complain, though, I’d like to see this as a way for them to express themselves and maybe offer up a solution.”
Breaking it down
That said, here’s some of what was accomplished:
Brigano proposed restructuring the task force structure to make it mirror the NSF Drinking Water Treatment Unit (DWTU) Joint Committee subcommittees since many of the prior Science Advisory subcommittees operated in this fashion and included members from the DWTU Joint Committee. This may make it easier to harmonize materials safety requirements of ANSI/NSF Standard 61, but others argued the issue was mostly held up by the point-of-entry (POE) system folks—particularly softeners—and the point-of-use (POU) device people didn’t have as many conflicts with it. WQA technical director Joe Harrison said POE may be separated from the issue to move it along. Underwriters Laboratories’ Ken Jenke, RO Task Force chairman, reported on progress toward an RO membrane data transfer protocol and literature requirements. WQA product certification director Tom Palkon discussed the Ozone Task Force efforts for developing an ozone generator performance standard and its white paper on reduction of iron/manganese/hydrogen sulfide. Palkon also made the presentation for the Distillation Task Force, which is working on updating Standard 62. C.F. “Chubb” Michaud gave a progress report on updating the WQA Technical Application Bulletins, and it was suggested new topics be added to the list: MTBE, perchlorate, etc. Pentair Water’s Gary Hatch said acrylonitrile was an emerging contaminant and recent studies point to the need for growing awareness among WQA members (see Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry report: www.atsdr.cdc. gov/tfacts125.html).
Retail Dealer Section
Michigan’s Dennis Rupert noted several TCDs were submitted to the Water Sciences Committee to follow up on septic tank discharge actions around the country, noting WQA public affairs coordinator Carlyn Meyer had put together a document on how dealers can handle such situations in their local communities. Rupert was glad SEAT time (continuing education credit) was now available in section meetings where a technical subject was discussed such as the presentation by WQA legal counsel Mike Sennett updating members on Do-Not-Call/Do-Not-Fax rules. A report on this topic is available to members at the WQA website (www.wqa.org).
Consumer Products Section
Brita’s Jim Mitchell highlighted burning issues: 1) increasing membership of the section, 2) lobbying in Canada and the United States for more uniform regulatory requirements regarding health claims, and 3) raising the value of membership for “big box” retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
Tana Industries’ Danny Taragan, section chairman, said a list of Task Control Forms were submitted on regulatory issues around the world that needed action or monitoring. He underscored the importance, on behalf of the section, of maintaining a staff person dedicated to international issues since WQA international director Andrew Warnes plans to step down in March.
WQA president Jim Baker, of AmeriWater, said serious consideration was being given to dropping the “c” from the C/I section, since most dealers have a good handle on those applications and the drive remains to attract more industrial water members to the association. Dean Spatz pointed out the section originated when the Industrial Water Conditioning Institute merged with WQA in 1997. So, certification and standards writing proposals are now being guided in that direction.
- A three-hour “State of the Industry Report” was given to summarize key committee and task force actions such as legislative, regulatory, technical and project status updates. WQA executive director Pete Censky said this session is designed to reduce prior repetitiveness of meeting agendas and streamline them for better time management.
- The Water Quality Research Council was renamed the Water Quality Research Foundation, requested by chairman Jack Lorenzen, at the final board meeting to clarify the organization’s function and help promote a fundraising initiative coordinated by Gordon Miller to raise nearly $2 million. The WQRF Board is composed of past WQA presidents.
- Spatz, Osmonics Inc. found-er, resigned from the BOD since his company was acquired by GE. He recommended Dick Elliot as a replacement.
- The Manufacturers Section proposed addressing the issue of possible patent infringement of the industry’s products by “foreign/Asian” manufacturers, according to Pentair’s Jorge Fernandez.
- Member Services Committee chairman Gerry Dierolf said two task groups were set up to look at industrial certification. In addition, e-distribution of the industry compensation study was discussed and $5,000 allocated for three pilot projects to develop “learning in a box” programs online for education efforts focusing initially on ethics and arsenic.
- WQA’s Margit Fotre pointed out the Market Development Committee spent 1-½ hours on establishing a protocol for how to move issues through the new issues management process. Main points of discussion included progress reports, the trade show and refocusing a consumer attitude survey begun by the Consumer Products Section expected to cost $150,000. Remaining agenda items were to be handled via conference call.
- Government Relations Committee chairman Neil Desmond, of Pentair, noted three quarters of the Task Control Forms generated were on the septic tank issue. Meyer went through a state-by-state report. Warnes reviewed international issues, focusing on Europe, Asia and Latin America (see www.wqa.org/sitelogic.cfm?ID=1183). And Enviro-gard’s Scott Macdonald gave a status report on emerging Canadian DWTU standards (see Viewpoint, this issue).
As a result of the positive work done in establishing more meat on the framework of the WQA’s organizational restructuring, expect a more streamlined version of issue management in Baltimore in March—the association’s 30th annual convention and exhibition. More member participation will be sought with respect to the various task control groups.