By Karen R. Smith

I write this on a hot, sunny, perfect Tucson day with a three-digit temperature…and a water bill just shy of four digits! A mortifying turn of events for the editor of a water industry magazine, let me tell you. My very personal thanks to those who helped me determine the source of the problem (which, for our curious readers, turned out to be a pipebreak in the irrigation system beneath a line of trees out back, all of which were looking curiously green and lush, which should have been a clue!)

What’s interesting is what happened next. Tucson Water promptly sent an investigative auditor to our home who was helpful, professional and successful at determining the nature of our problem. However, the hostility of the billing department was palpable—interesting for a group purporting to provide ‘customer service’. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that despite the stated one-time forgiveness policy for such incidents, I’ve yet to secure that particular boon from the agency. If  I’m having a hard time—with the advantage of expert advice from industry professionals, fluency of language, familiarity with administrative processes and more—what happens to the folks who don’t?

On a related note, British artist Mark Mcgowen sought to raise public awareness of the need to conserve water with his latest work, which is a running tap that is going to stay that way for one entire year in a South London gallery, where it will ultimately waste 15 million liters of water. Spokespersons for Thames Water say they are investigating legal options to force the artist to turn off the faucet. Mcgowen noted his inspiration grew in part from the fact that Thames Water admits that one-third of supply is lost in leaks from the city’s 20,000 miles of pipes. Losses and all, the utility made a profit of £182 million ($317.7 million U.S.).

With those visions of water waste in my head, I attended the regular meeting of the Arizona WQA in Phoenix where it was a great pleasure to see Kinetico’s Russ Harrison back in action! Dave Perry presented the membership with a well-reasoned look at the Summary Report and Conclusions of the Central Arizona Salinity Study (CASS). Going forward, participating cities and towns will treat this individually. While the future remains a mystery, possibilities are already being batted about, ranging from graduated billing for softener users to adding a membrane treatment process for the recharging of groundwater. AZ WQA members will attend the upcoming city council meetings of all the municipalities to stay on top of this process as it develops (see page 42 of this issue for more details).

The CASS report’s executive summary noted that water losses of 15 percent are common to RO and made adopting that technology a challenge. Another of the subcommittees noted that salinity is rising and that 51 percent of new homes are installing water softeners. Possible future options listed include promoting potassium over sodium chloride for softeners and evaluating non-salt regeneration for large commercial sites. Surcharge and discharge limits are another possibility, along with POU treatment/brine concentration and removal.

This luncheon was a prime example of the advantages of being an active part of your regional WQA chapter. Staying on top of the salinity issues facing the community where you do business, networking with your fellow industry professionals to acquaint policy makers with how treatment and purification products really work, demonstrating the actual science, free of rhetoric—and all the while enjoying the fellowship and support of members whose commitment matches your own.

Which leads me to admonish each and every WQA member reading this to get busy on their Leadership Award nominations! The deadline is August 15, which means you need to get started right now. Every single WQA member is eligible to nominate and to be nominated, so there is no excuse for not getting involved.

There are eight awards with different criteria and several can be bestowed annually on more than one individual, company or organization. Be sure to provide enough information for the Awards Task Force to judge how well your nominee fits the criteria of each award. You can file your nominations quickly and easily at



Comments are closed.