By Karen R. Smith

Long hot summer
Record drought in Arizona, record floods in New England…Chinese cities without any potable water at all, while in the U.K. more than half of the available water is being lost via pipe leaks. Overall, water and the availability thereof is rather contentious at this moment. At first glance, that would imply it’s time to consider some other line of work. But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth!

Comedian George Carlin has noted that in any U.S. city today, people are toting around bottled water rather than drinking what comes out of the tap. On a recent episode of 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney commented on the same phenomenon. Carlin believes it means there’s a loss of faith (in the infrastructure) by the majority of Americans. We get enough calls at the office from people asking about their tap water that I tend to agree with him. Take a ride around your own neighborhood on a hot afternoon. If everyone is carrying bottled water, there are significant opportunities for your business.

Except, one may presume, in certain cities in Illinois. For the second year in a row, Illinois American Water’s Champaign District (Illinois American) was voted best tasting water in the nation at the 2nd Annual Water Taste Test held at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE) in San Antonio, Texas. A panel drawn from across the country performed the test. Stands to reason that if the best water is there, there’s room for improvement everywhere else!

Hot weather and thirst go hand in hand. At no other time of year does water play quite as big a role. While the housing market seems to have leveled off somewhat from last year’s buying frenzy, summer is still the top season for families to relocate. Are builders in your area recommending your products? Are your coupons offered at builders’ decorative options centers? What about local plumbing and hardware suppliers? Well drillers?

If you didn’t answer yes to each of those questions, get busy! Crank up your marketing efforts. Call the chamber of commerce or the senior citizens’ center and offer to provide water for their next meeting. Now is the time to arrange the next Fourth of July parade or barbecue in your city or town—because summer events need water. Consider adding to your sales force to take advantage of all the opportunities hot weather and thirst provide.

For most regions, business should be thriving this summer. There are notable exceptions. Hurricane season began in the south, where Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida still suffer the consequences of last year’s storms. Residents in these states know firsthand what can happen to municipal water systems when disaster strikes. My southern relatives bought air-to-water machines after Katrina and I am sure they were not the only ones!

There are rising TDS levels in California and Arizona, where drought and salinity may combine to produce a hostile political and regulatory climate for this industry. The economic facts of life are such that politicians will look to ban water softeners long before fertilizers. And none are likely to stand up in front of their constituents and confess they should have built treatment plants of sufficient capacity before now…certainly before giving out all those building permits. In Las Vegas, Nevada, another new house is completed every 20 minutes and the University of Nevada estimates 1.9 million residents in Clark County by next year. What will they drink and where will it be purified?

In mid-June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) launched a new water efficiency program, WaterSense. The goal of the agency is, “to spread the ethic of water efficiency and promote the tools to make wise water choices.”

The agency states that the average household can save 30,000 gallons per year by adopting water-efficient products…and certainly one of those products should be yours! See details on page 10 of this issue.

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