By Keller O’Leary

In a recent webinar, the Water Quality Association (WQA) provided a comprehensive report on highlights from its 2023 progress and activities for government affairs, along with what can be expected in their 2024 plan.

Looking Back on 2023

Jeremy Pollack, government affairs director at WQA, provided a synopsis of all the progress the WQA made on various levels of government legislation this past year.

Their focus revolved around their three major goals of advancing knowledge, increasing advocacy, and driving public awareness.

On the federal level, the WQA:

  • Attended 160+ policymaker meetings.
  • Tracked 210 bills.
  • Participated in 120+ external engagements with other organizations.
  • Sent 71 advocacy letters.
  • 34 signed laws were enacted.
  • Partnered with 25 grassroots engagement events.
  • Hosted 17 educational events.

Likewise, they have doubled the number of congressional cosponsors from last year in their support of the Healthy H2O Act. The WQA shared their enthusiasm for the return of the Water Resources Congressional Summit in 2023 with a record attendance, and they look forward to hosting the summit again later this year.

Pollack also highlighted two large achievements with these as well, Indiana’s newly passed Drinking Water and Lead bill for protecting school water, and California’s Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium 6) ruling to remove the toxic substance from the state’s chrome plating industry.

Looking Forward to 2024

Looking forward to this year, Mae Stevens, the chair of water infrastructure practice at Banner Public Affairs, talked about WQA’s efforts that are continuing into 2024, and new initiatives expected from WQA as the daunting election year delays loom.

Stevens discussed the causes of gridlock in spending levels during an election year, which do include certain allocations of 2024 provisions for the WQA.

WQA and Banner are working closely with bipartisan stakeholders to advance the legislation that aligns with the priorities of the WQA. Stevens points to the four key priorities for government affairs that they are seeking to advance and address this year:

  • Healthy H2O Act
  • PFAS
  • Lead
  • FIFRA

For the lead and PFAS priorities, Stevens described the efforts they are taking with the EPA to further regulate the presence of these toxic contaminants for safe drinking water. She also placed a strong emphasis on the importance of point-of-entry (POE) and point-of-use (POU) systems to deal with contaminants in these priority regions. Likewise, the WQA is working with the U.S. EPA to adjust and improve the maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for PFAS.

2024 Updates from the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF)

Callie Matheny, foundation manager for the WQRF, gave a preview of the major events that the WQRF has highlighted for the upcoming year.

Matheny detailed the schedule of the preconvention 2024 WQRF Scientific Symposium 2024: Solutions Catalyst on March 4, 2024, in Orlando, FL. It is designed to educate scientific and technical water stakeholders on issues in water today, including PFAS contamination, water resiliency, and innovation. One notable feature of this lineup includes the U.S. Geological Survey’s findings on contamination of tap water around the country over the last eight years of their sample collections.

For a full, detailed list of the schedule of what will be discussed, click here .

Matheny also introduced the next episode of WQRF’s In-The-Know webinar series: PFAS, Drinking Water, and What’s Next. It will take place on Thursday, February 8 at 11:00 am CT. For more information and registration for this webinar, click here.

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