By Donald McGhee, MWS, WQA Board President
As the 2016-2017 Water Quality Association (WQA) Board President, I have had the opportunity to serve and interact with very skilled and astute folks to serve the many needs of the water treatment industry. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of WQA and the impact that it has had on me as a dealer in a small market. I became involved with the association to gain access to its products and educational offerings, as well as connecting with industry professionals. Over time, I was drafted by WQA staff to participate on a national level by serving on the association’s Market Development Committee. It was through this committee that my involvement within the association grew. Eventually, I was asked to join the Board of Directors and, most recently, the Board of Governors.
As Board President, I have had the pleasure of seeing several initiatives come to fruition and/or completion. WQA’s Board recently completed the process of moving a highly skilled, dynamic person from within the organization through a mentoring program that allowed Pauli Undesser to ascend to the position of Executive Director. The process was so extensive that it would be an understatement to say it was equal to the process of obtaining a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in association management. Undesser’s leadership and skill set will provide WQA with a strong foundation to continue emerging as a national voice for water quality advocacy.
The desire to become the national advocate for the water quality industry has challenged the association to take a two-pronged approach with federal and regional advocacy efforts. First, by partnering with the Gephardt Group in Washington, DC, we have the ability to remain proactive with issues at the legislative levels and with agencies such as the US EPA, which has broad-reaching oversight in areas that greatly affect water quality. We have also created a stronger focus on regional advocacy by matching volunteers and staff that can bolster action at the respective levels. By doing so, we have clearly moved the ball toward WQA being recognized as a go-to resource when it comes to ongoing water quality issues.
Issues like we saw in Flint, MI will not be going away. For those who follow WQA on its social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, we see a lot of evidence of other cities, counties and regions that are experiencing significant issues when it comes to how consumers are affected when contaminants find a way into drinking water supplies. If there ever was a right that we should be proud of, it is that we, as a country, have access to safe drinking water. We have assumed for many years that access would always come safely from municipal treatment systems. WQA finds itself in a unique position by providing certified products to consumers at reasonable costs to make it easier to apply POU or POE systems so that removal of specific contaminants will provide safe drinking water. This is crucial as we know what happens when infants and school-age children are exposed to hazardous contaminants like lead.
The issues we face as consumers and as an industry leave no doubt in my mind that the original reasons I became involved with WQA (products, education, networking) have even greater importance for me today. If you are new to the industry or new to WQA, I strongly encourage you to attend the WQA Convention & Exposition, March 28-31 in Orlando, FL. The technical and business-related education sessions by themselves are more than sufficient reason to attend this year’s event. The opportunity to interact with other professionals is just the cherry on top. If you are not a member of WQA, I cannot over-stress the importance of becoming involved with WQA by joining today.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the Board President over this past year; I have gained more from serving than I was able to give in service to the board and the association. The future looks very bright for our industry and I look forward to seeing you in Orlando!