By Karen R. Smith
Like most monthly magazines, we put WC&P together many weeks in advance of its cover date. While often that means we have the enjoyable task of premiering news and information, there are occasions where we appear to be oddly ‘behind’ the times. Writing this column today, I’m experiencing the latter: by the time you read this, WQA Aquatech USA 2005 will be over—whereas I am eagerly counting the days until we head to Las Vegas. My crystal ball tells me the show will be an unprecedented success. You might question my psychic ability—but the pre-registration numbers are so high that WQA and Aquatech are already committed to doing it again in 2006 in Chicago!
We will write a complete review of the event for our next issue, including a special section featuring new products that debut at the show. In the months to come, we’ll talk with those who attended and share with you the opportunities created by this first-of-its kind event. The synergies of the multiple divisions in the world of water are rapidly outnumbering the differences. In this issue alone, we look at water metering, moving your business from residential to commercial to industrial and the case for desalination as an answer to diminishing potable water supplies—along with the latest look at the financial side of the filtration sector. This combination of topics would have been unthinkable even a short while ago.
Everything in the world of water will ultimately affect your business. It is all too easy to think that if it’s about wastewater, you needn’t pay attention. Or that attacks on salt in the media don’t concern you. As the resource becomes more precious, the lines of distinction between different types of water will (pardon the pun) evaporate. Many of you will begin to cross those lines by attending WQA Aquatech 2005; many more will take those first steps thanks to the contributors to this magazine.
We welcome Richard Hanneman’s contribution in particular this month. The Center for Science in the Public Interest made national headlines on every major news channel by announcing in the most lurid terms their lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in federal court. On every major network, CSPI’s spokesperson Stephen Havas, MD, MPH, MS got his 15 minutes of fame by stating that 150,000 Americans die unnecessarily each year because of salt consumption.
CSPI seeks to compel the FDA to re-classify salt as a food additive (it is currently classified as GRAS, generally recognized as safe). Processed foods and restaurant foods contribute almost 80 percent of sodium to the diet, according to CSPI’s report. As President of the Salt Institute, Hanneman is on the front lines of this particular battle. The outcome will influence decisions about salt, water softeners and your ability to do business in each and every state in the nation.
Municipal governments have turned against salt because of their own problems with wastewater treatment. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Report Card for America’s Infrastructure states that our nation’s infrastructure is in crisis (you can view it at www.infrastructurereportcard.org). While some of their assessments have been challenged (notably by AWWA in regard to the U.S. water system’s continued reliability and superiority) if they are right even by half regarding wastewater treatment, more and more cities will seek to regulate water softening—either by banning discharge into septic systems or by legislating against the initial purchase of a home unit.
We at WC&P salute each and every firm in the industry that has provided aid to those in peril after the tsunami. The update here is extensive, but by no means complete. There are dealers and distributors who have made significant contributions but wish their generosity to remain anonymous, and corporations who have organized extensive outreach efforts in stricken areas but do not wish to publicize those efforts in any way. The numbers of folks who sent donations to the Red Cross and other relief groups would fill dozens of pages. Know that your generosity makes more fresh potable water a reality throughout the stricken region each and every day.