Is there common ground between municipal water utilities and the point-of-use industry? Can the American
Water Works Association (AWWA) which numbers 52,000 water utility professionals and the Water Quality Association (WQA) work together for the good of the consumer?
These questions have plagued both industries since the POU industry began selling home water treatment devices to consumers served by municipal water utilities.
While scare tactics and false claims employed by some POU sales-people have justifiably angered water utility managers, the problem seems to go much deeper than that. Just the mere presence of POU water treatment devices is an indictment of municipal water in the eyes of many utility managers.
Once the focus of the water treatment industry shifted from mere aesthetics such as softened water to health-related contaminants in drinking water, municipalities felt the quality of their water was being questioned.
Although the percentage of “bad apples” in the POU industry is relatively low, the everyday water utility manager needs only one bad experience to adopt a defensive stance against all POU treatment.
However, all the news is not discouraging. There is movement by the leadership of both associations to seek solutions to myriad problems facing them. The Joint Liaison Committee of the AWWA and WQA, formed two years ago, has begun a dialogue which has opened new avenues of communication.
The committee has made great strides, but would be the first to agree that much still remains to be done.
Perhaps the most positive sign is that understanding is beginning to filter down through AWWA membership. WC & P experienced this new understanding while attending AWWA’s recent Water Technology Conference in San Diego, CA. Many conferees openly discussed their feelings, both negative and positive, about POU water treatment with WC & P. AWWA even had a poster presentation during the conference on the effectiveness of POU activated carbon filtration devices.
Yes, there are encouraging signs. Certainly the groundwork of cooperation has been laid. Water pros from both associations are at least beginning to listen to each other. And, once everyone involved realizes that.
Darlene J. Scheel
WC & P Editor