By Pauli Undesser, MWS, WQA Executive Director
This is the year of impact for the Water Quality Association. With the crisis in Flint, MI still fresh in the minds of consumers and regulators, our members will be called upon to help educate and protect the public, perhaps in new and innovative ways. It is, without a doubt, a pivotal time in the water treatment industry. With our 2017 consumer opinion study being conducted this year, WQA and its members will be able to gain new insights into consumers’ perceptions about the quality of their drinking water and what types of treatment they might consider for their homes or workplaces.
The Flint crisis has permanently changed consumer perceptions about drinking water. But it was just one of many water-related stories making news across the nation in the past couple of years. Toledo had a crisis involving microcystin contamination in its municipal water system; 10 thousand gallons of crude 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) spilled into the Elk River in West Virginia. So, it’s not just Flint and it’s not just lead. We see a variety of threats and concerns across the nation.
In the wake of the Flint crisis, WQA updated its crisis plan to offer a quicker response and resources when warranted. Once an event is considered a crisis, the plan calls for WQA to:
• Send out emails to its members with updates on the crisis
• Reach out to the appropriate state association, if available, to lend support
• Distribute news releases announcing WQA’s position on the crisis and make appropriate resources available
• Create informational handouts for members
• Reach out to local and state authorities, offering WQA as an educational resource and pointing to certified products and professionals
One of my goals as the new Executive Director is for WQA to more firmly establish itself as a valuable source of information and knowledge. WQA’s Government and Regulatory Affairs will remain active in building recognition for WQA and its members on Capitol Hill, within federal agencies and in key state legislatures. WQA formed a federal political action committee this year to increase the association’s participation in the political process and further foster relations with legislators to ensure our needs are heard.
WQA continues to position itself as the leading advocate in the drinking water industry when it comes to professional and product certification. This year, our Professional Certification Department will continue to revise its exams to reflect an emphasis on field-work experience. It will also continue to develop the POU cooler-specific installer training module. Meanwhile, Product Certification will continue to develop and offer new certification services in 2017 to meet domestic and global market needs, such as NSF/ANSI 401 for pharmaceutical reduction.
So, the spotlight on our association and our industry is shining brighter these days. We’re rising to meet the new challenges. It’s our hope and mission to continue to do all we can to educate and inform the public, while equipping our members to be the very best in promoting the betterment of clean drinking water.