By Kathleen Burbidge

The Water Quality Association (WQA) unveiled its 2022-2024 Strategic Plan at the WQA Convention & Exposition in April 2022 with a focus on expanding consumer awareness of water quality challenges and preparing the industry to have a greater role in meeting those challenges. The plan reflects the dedication of water treatment professionals to continue working in an increasingly complex world to improve lives and communities through sustainable technologies and services.

The plan includes three overarching goals intended to achieve defined outcomes for the water treatment industry:

GOAL 1 — Advancing knowledge and professionalism of industry participants.
WQA will enhance and expand the opportunities by which the
water treatment industry demonstrates value and positive impact on water quality.

GOAL 2 — Increasing advocacy.

WQA will strengthen its position as a thought leader having a
voice with government, non-governmental organizations, and other industry associations at the United States federal, regional, and state levels, and globally relative to all critical water quality concerns and solutions.

GOAL 3 — Driving public awareness and knowledge.

WQA will proactively provide awareness and knowledge about
the importance of understanding water quality by strategically communicating thought leadership, while highlighting the industry’s ethics, technologies, methods, and benefits.

The WQA Mid-Year Leadership Conference (MYLC), held September 13-15, 2022, is where water treatment professionals will gather to come up with the action items to reach these strategic goals. Attendees will have an opportunity to be a voice for the future, to connect, and to inspire each other to advance the betterment of water quality.

The conference in Lake Tahoe, CA, comes at an important time as we confront the many opportunities that lie ahead for our industry. MYLC has a history of being innovative. In 2018, a hurricane bearing down on the conference site forced us to cancel the in-person event and quickly pivot to create our first-ever virtual conference—a full 18 months before the coronavirus pandemic made such online events commonplace. Now, after a couple years of online and hybrid events, we’re seeing the value of in-person, collaborative, thought-provoking discussions, and networking opportunities.

“We’re excited to offer a new experience for this year’s conference,” said Angie Silberhorn, Events Director for WQA, which sponsors the annual event. “This will be a key opportunity to come together to be a force in the water treatment community and position WQA to tackle the industry’s biggest challenges.”

The reimagined conference brings together water treatment dealers, manufacturers, sales representatives, installers, and others to help shape and advance the strategy of the industry. The intimate setting allows attendees to get to know each other better and form strategies around common goals. They will be able to join in the ongoing work of industry committees, task forces, and advisory councils, and see where and how they want to get involved next.

“Attending Mid-Year gives members a chance to get involved on a deeper level in our industry,” said Sam Baron, Vice President of Maher Water Corporation in Stevens Point, WI.

For those who have never attended the MYLC, this is the year to share your experiences and leave inspired by your colleagues. The entire industry is welcome. You don’t have to be a WQA member or involved in a WQA or WQRF committee to take full advantage of MYLC. Instead, the conference strategy is to welcome and encourage everyone to come prepared to engage and carry actionable ideas back to the office.

For example, have you heard of the Healthy H2O Act, more formally known as the Healthy Drinking Water Affordability Act? This federal bill, which would provide grants for water testing and the purchase of certified treatment technology directly to individuals, came from an initiative formerly called Clean Water for All that was developed by a WQA task force. It has now been introduced in both the U.S House and U.S. Senate and is supported by more than 20 other water-related associations. MYLC will bring attendees up to speed on the act, its progress in Congress, and what they can do to encourage their legislators to support it. You can ask questions about what it could mean for you or your company and how you can prepare for it.

MYLC will also bring together different sections of the industry to share perspectives on hot topics and common pain points. Manufacturers and dealers will hold a joint meeting to discuss what we can do to help ourselves—and each other—prepare for what lies ahead.

Commercial/industrial applications come with their own unique set of challenges. At MYLC, you can share your ideas and bring back new ones on ways of getting customers to consider water treatment products or systems. The discussion will also cover bid specifications for systems in commercial, industrial, and multiple-residential buildings.

We’re excited about other dynamic, engaging discussions taking place during the conference:

  • Informing the industry’s strategy and engaging in conver­sations on the latest industry reports and trends.
  • Sharing ideas on how we can better promote our high ethical standards to consumers.
  • Discussing the latest water industry research and what is ahead with the Water Quality Research Foundation.

And speaking of the Water Quality Research Foundation, it’s MYLC tradition to host fun activities to support WQRF and its legacy of game-changing research. Take part in our Benefit Golf Outing the afternoon of September 13, on the resort’s spectacular course, the Links at Squaw Creek. The evening of September 14, you can sample Alibi Ale Works’ craft beers at sunset and enjoy a delicious dinner along the shores of this sparkling lake at “Crafted Alibis on Lake Tahoe: A WQRF Benefit Dinner Experience.” Both experiences offer further networking opportunities to foster relationships.

Taking the objective of the conference one step further this year, attendees will have access to pre-conference materials to review with their team before arriving to maximize their return on investment. We are calling it your ROI toolkit, and you can find it, along with more information on registration fees, room accommodations and the schedule, on the conference website, https://mylc.wqa.org/.

About the author
Kathleen Burbidge, CAE, is External Affairs Associate Director for the Water Quality Association, where she has worked for seven years. A cum laude graduate of North Central College in Naperville, IL, she was named to the prestigious 2020 “Forty Under 40” list by the Association Forum, an organization of Chicago-area professional associations.

About the company
WQA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment indus­try. WQA’s education and professional certification programs have been providing industry-standardized training and creden­tialing since 1977. The WQA Gold Seal certification program has been certifying products that contribute to the safe consumption of water since 1959. The WQA Gold Seal program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

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