By Karen R. Smith, WC&P Executive Editor
Like most monthly magazines, we put an issue together many weeks in advance of its cover date. While often that means we have the enjoyable task of premiering news and information in advance, 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 and done – 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 advance 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 and will be including a special section featuring new products that made their 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. That 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’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.
CSPI seeks to compel the FDA to 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 here 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 regards 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 home unit.
This coming week, I’m moving into a lovely house that is less than 10 years old. Each and every appliance and a good deal of the plumbing needs replacement due to the damage inflicted by hard water. If you’d like pictures of the true cost of life without softened water, let me know – between the images of the cross sections of my pipes and copies of the receipts for all the new improvements I’m paying for, you’ll have an impressive presentation.
We at WC&P salute each and every firm in the industry who has provided aid to those in peril after the tsunami. While the update in this issue is extensive, it by no means is complete. There are dealers and distributors who have made significant contributions but wish their generosity to remain private; individuals who believe charity is best when 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 your generosity makes more fresh potable water a reality throughout the stricken region each and every day.