By Karen R. Smith
You need only to read Ken Smedley’s article in this issue to understand that a softening ban can occur anywhere, as bad science, ambitious politicians and federal waste water treatment mandates unite to paint water softening as the cause of all ills. Your vigilance today can protect your livelihood tomorrow. By acquainting elected officials with your business, you create opportunities for dialogue. If you are lucky enough to live in a region with an active WQA chapter, make it a group outing!
I just returned from France, where it is very, very good to be a water purification and treatment specialist. The French have truly embraced the concept that tap water is somehow deficient and unhealthy; in fact, recent government polls have shown that 51 percent prefer bottled mineral water. The result is an increase in the sales of POE and POU systems. Take it from a former New Yorker—the tap water in Paris tastes wonderful. Just like in my hometown, old pipes make for very soft water indeed. But the Parisians aren’t drinking it, apparently.
French municipalities are striking back, notably in Paris, where the government is creating a very pricey advertising campaign to promote the sexiness and elegance of Parisian tap water. The ads will also drawupon the French fondness for a bargain and stress the flamboyant monetary waste of bottled water. When dining out, you can get tap water by requesting un carafe d’eau for your table. Said carafes range from lovely crystal pitchers to hastily rinsed wine bottles. In Paris, the publicly owned water company (Eau de Paris) in conjunction with City Hall, conducted a design competition for the perfect French carafe d’eau on the theory that a beautiful vessel would increase the popularity of tap water as a choice for restaurant diners. The winning design is being mass produced (some 30,000 so far and many more to come) and distributed at no cost to restaurants and eventually to all the city’s residents for use at home. Whether or not this will work as intended remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting attempt to sway people back to tap water. We’ll keep you posted on the results as they become available.
Meanwhile, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) responded to an ABC 20/20 segment that aired on May 6 in which reporter John Stossel questioned why people now seem to prefer bottled water. He conducted a taste test in New York City, offering people the municipality’s own tap water and five other choices, all bottled waters: Evian; the top-selling bottled water Aquafina; Poland Spring; Iceland Spring (a Scandinavian import) and American Fare, a discount brand from Kmart selling for less than half the price of Evian. Tasters were asked to rate the waters as bad, average or great. Tap water fared well in the results…Evian didn’t…and Stossel’s take on the whole phenomenon was objectionable to the IBWA who felt the piece one-sided. Judge for yourself—if you missed the show you can read the actual text of the segment on ABC News’ website (http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Health/story?id=728070&page=1).
All of our readers should be aware that Avon representatives are now selling water testing kits right alongside their cosmetics. The company now features do-it-yourself test kits by Pro-Lab in their catalog’s wellness section for both water quality and mold. Do let us know if this impacts business in your area and how your customers respond.
We are continuing to present the best of the new products we discovered at WQA Aquatech 2005. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you missed this event, circle your calendar right now to attend next year in Illinois. In fact, visit the WQA website immediately to download a copy of the Advanced Planning Prospectus. And do share your expertise—the WQA is calling for papers through the first days of this month.
As the old expression goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We were, therefore, sincerely flattered when Water Quality Products Magazine printed an article in their April ’05 issue that we had published in WC&P back in September of 2004. We shall seek no damages of any kind as mistakes honestly occur even amongst experienced publishers. We encourage each and every water industry professional to write for our magazine—apparently, doing so might get you in print elsewhere as well!