May 2003
Volume 45 Number 5
 

Doubling Down in Vegas--WQA Convention Meeting-by-Meeting Review
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor, and Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor   Pages: 

Following is a detailed review of the WQA's 29th Annual Convention at the Las Vegas Hilton on March 18-22, 2003:

Small Systems Committee
Distillation Task Force
Microbial Issues Task Force
Convention Committee
World Assembly/WQA Standards & Regulations Committee
Quebec ANSI Certification Special Update
Ozone Task Force
Reverse Osmosis Task Force
State Regulatory/Plumbing Code Task Force
C/I Standards Committee
Ion Exchange Task Force
Educational Services Committee/World Assembly Education, Ethics & Legal Committee
Water Quality Society Steering Committee/Website Advisory Task Force
Government Relations/Science Advisory Committee
Texas Septic Tank Discharge Ban Special Update
POU/POE Demonstration Projects for SDWA Compliance for Arsenic
Illinois EPA Royal Melbourne Community Pilot POE Treatment Program for Radium
California Salinity Strategy Committee
World Assembly Executive Committee
HPC, Legionella and Mold*
Salinity Management Issues*
WQA 2003 Annual Awards
Board of Directors Meeting

* NOTE: Educational seminars.

Small Systems Committee: One of the first official meetings of the trade show was well attended even though many WQA members may not have flown or drove into Las Vegas yet. John Schlafer chaired the meeting and was flanked by WQA technical director Joe Harrison. Other committee members included Mike Keller, Orville Schaefer, P. Regunathan, Lance FitzGerald, Phil Olsen, Steve Sommerfeld and Joe Aponte Jr. During the introduction, Schlafer made mention of the NSF conference in February in Orlando on the challenges and opportunities of point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment technology for public water system compliance to federal drinking water standards.

FitzGerald, of USFilter/Culligan, was asked by Schlafer to expound on the project being conducted at an exclusive community (Royal Melbourne) in Long Grove, Ill., where a pilot project for POE treatment of radium is under way. The gated community has its own municipality and is shopping for a central water treatment system that will deliver 19 million gallons a year. The estimated cost of such a system is $2 million. With WQA collaboration as well as that of the Illinois EPA (IEPA), POE was looked at as a viable option. (As an aside, the IEPA "did not want to touch point-of-use," FitzGerald said, because of monitoring and oversight issues). Putting POE into full compliance meant that 100 percent participation was necessary.

Another important aspect of the case study was to be able to obtain random water samples for radium without entering the home. FitzGerald noted that the largest costs involved testing for radionuclides. Moreover, he said, the study required a great deal of post-sampling. In essence, no hardness on the tests would mean no radium presence, which currently runs at 10 parts per million (ppm); the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standard is 5. Harrison commented that ion exchange "would take it down to near zero."

Houses in the community, 114 at the present and eventually will number 126, generally sell for between $600,000 and $1 million. Once every 30 days, the softeners were tested to ensure they worked. According to FitzGerald, the pilot test is completed and the permit review was close to being finished at the time of the meeting. The program is scheduled to last three years.

The next item discussed during the meeting was the much-discussed strategic plan for the WQA. A motion was proposed and subsequently seconded to have Schlafer present the case for continuing the Small Systems Committee before the Science Advisory Committee. One member mentioned that it was his understanding the "future plan is not to eliminate committees, but to consolidate some." The committee will gather next at its Mid-Year meeting in conjunction with the IBWA/Worldwide Food Expo in late October.

Distillation Task Force: innowave's Tyler Adams chaired this meeting, which went over line-by-line revisions to NSF Standard 62: Drinking Water Distillation Systems and the Distillation Study Guide and exam. Among the speakers where WQA lab director Tom Palkon, Pure Water's Al Meder, Water Ware's Doug Sutter, Underwriter Laboratories' Ken Jenke and NSF's Tom Bruursema and Mike Blumenstein. The main issue debated was keeping some sort of microbial standard intact in Standard 62 and an update on NSF Standards 55 and 221, regarding what manner to measure whether a distillation system was not functioning properly. NSF 221 is a newer standard under development for certifying POU/POE equipment with respect to treatment of "unsafe" water. Standard 55 involves UV disinfection of "safe" water. The discussion had shifted from installing a total dissolved solids (TDS) meter in the distiller's product water chamber to a flow level meter in the boiling chamber to set off an alarm if a boil over caused the product chamber to be flooded. Redundant controls, i.e., inclusion of both, was suggested as a way to make Standard 62 also meet microbial requirements of Standards 55 and 221 particularly as they relate to requests by the USEPA and Department of Homeland Security for the EPA/NSF Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program to set up a protocol to begin testing POU/POE systems for possible efficacy against bioterrorism or chemical agents—or, as they were referred to, "exotics." See www.epa.gov/etv/vendors/vendannounce.html (bottom of the page) for vendor requests. Blumenstein gave an overview of the homeland security proposal, noting the federal government wanted to keep most of it "vague" for now. Suffice it to say, they initially wanted testing within six months, but it soon became clear that a protocol was necessary since the contaminants were not standard issue, so to speak, and would require surrogate validation rather than an "off-the-shelf" formula. "As we talk about homeland security, though, I think that distillation can offer some distinct advantages," Adams said.

Microbial Issues Task Force: NSF's Ray Jaglowski, the chairman, led the meeting, attended by Frank Brigano, Regunathan, Steve VerStrat, Gary Hatch, Joe Harrison and Mark Unger. They reviewed the WQA position paper on HPC bacteria following last April's HPC conference co-sponsored by NSF and the World Health Organization in Geneva. The conference's findings were summarized by Regunathan in a rather voluminous work that Jaglowski said still required an executive summary. Brigano urged that it be adopted as a white paper, but it was felt there feedback be allowed first, particularly from those in Europe that have been fighting this issue more closely—which Regunathan said should be acknowledged. Thus, it was agreed to post the paper to the WQA website for public comment for 30 days for that purpose. Toledo Water Conditioning's John Keener, an attendee, raised the issue of microbial problems from air injection water systems, an issue Jaglowski said he would take to the Science Advisory Committee. Blumenstein repeated his review USEPA efforts to develop testing protocols for POU/POE products for reduction of bioterrorism agents.

Convention Committee: The committee noted that Las Vegas had the highest preregistration ever for a WQA trade show, with 33 new exhibitors. The group took a tour of the convention center facilities and discussed alternating trade show sites with Las Vegas every other year.

World Assembly/WQA Standards & Regulations Committee: Tom Bruursema reviewed status of Taiwan's Bureau of Standards, Metrology & Inspections (BSMI) standards with respect to drinking water treatment units (DWTUs): see www.nsf.org/newsletters/soe01-3/dateline.html or www.bsmi.gov.tw. In Japan, chairman Steve VerStrat, of Access Business Group (Amway), said a Japanese association in water treatment (JWTPA) is looking to initiate additional standards certification, including labeling laws. Bruursema said it's mostly an effort to harmonize with ANSI/NSF standards but they're having difficulty rationalizing testing methods in Standard 53 and Standard 61: see www.nsf.org or www.tcn.zaq.ne.jp. A Korean packaging waste law and revisions to the drinking water law also were discussed, as were updates on Brazil's ABNT standard initiative and CEN standards for mechanical filters (less than 80 microns), softeners (draft standard 15), and others. WQA international director Andrew Warnes noted that the European standards harmonization body CEN had formally rejected the WQA's application for "observer" status with TC164, which is in charge of water treatment products. Other issues discussed included WQA initiatives in California and Iowa to streamline their product certification and review processes to make them less onerous to the industry. And Quebec's effort to require all POU/POE products be certified to ANSI/NSF standards was mentioned as a success story regarding how to change a confrontational bureaucracy into one that solicits expert opinion of the industry, according to Constance Wrigley-Thomas, manager of the Canadian WQA (Click HERE for the latest update on events north of the border).

Ozone Task Force: Chaired by Cameron Tapp, of ClearWater Tech, the task force also included Olsen, Landgraf, FitzGerald, the WQA's Palkon, Kenneth Wise, Paul Overbeck and Angelo Mazzi. The majority of the meeting revolved around the Ozone Generator Testing and Validation Program and a draft was discussed virtually point-by-point. While discussing polymer documentation, GE Osmonics' attendee Dale Mork suggested placing the onus on each manufacturer. It was also reiterated that the program dealt with ozone production, and not contaminant reduction. An explanation of the notes contained within the paper was given by NSF attendee Rob Herman.

Reverse Osmosis Task Force: Committee members included Josh Hanford, Peter Kennedy, Robert Slovak, Tom and Peter Cartwright, FitzGerald, Palkon, Harrison, Aponte, Kenneth Jenke and Dave Paulson. An update on a data transfer report was given that showed the committee had received some negative ballots. One member recommended that the protocol should be similar to NSF's so re-testing could be avoided. Paulson said the equivalency needed to be resolved because "if you paint too broad of a brush, it won't be accepted."

FitzGerald chimed in, "We have Pandora's box way open right now" with NSF Standard 58. For example, he added, two membrane systems with similar components could easily produce one passing test and a failed one. Herman admitted that Standard 58 puts a heavy onus on the manufacturer. He said it intentionally creates a "compromise." It pits the testing protocol vs. certification requirements. Harrison said the data transfer doesn't change the variability of the standard. In the end, it was decided the next step was to have Jenke and Paulson submit a draft on behalf of the committee. Harrison told the committee that the future of all 28 WQA committees will be determined by the Government Relations, Water Sciences, Market Development and Member Services committees, which are the four key committees included in the new WQA Strategic Plan released in early March and approved at the WQA Las Vegas final board of directors meeting.

State Regulatory/Plumbing Code Task Force: Key speakers included Clack Corp.'s Loretta Trapp, WQA's Carlyn Meyer, Harrison and Palkon; Nimbus' Tony Pagliaro, FitzGerald and Brigano. They went over changes and approvals of rewritten drafts of residential water treatment device certification programs for California and Iowa, haggling over the finer points of what the WQA had changed and what had been rejected. One of the problems was selective citing of ANSI/NSF standards that often did not include the most recent versions and/or left out key portions. Labeling was an issue as were overreaching restrictions on website verbage. Fees were also discussed and, at one point, it was suggested California simply end its certification program as it was redundant with ANSI/NSF requirements; however, that was considered highly unlikely, if only since the current economic stagnation has many state budgets already in a bind. Canada WQA's Wrigley-Thomas reviewed Quebec certification issues, noting that as the plumbing code bodies got more deeply into the issue they realized they did not know enough about the technology and backtracked, seeking more input and delaying some of the more strict requirements of the measure. Also mentioned was an effort to regulate water treatment equipment installers by the New Hampshire plumber's board. Attendee Dennis Rupert discussed how the Michigan WQA was successful in getting favorable language in the first plumbing code passed by the state since 1923. However, at the same time a whole section of central Michigan has now banned discharge of softeners into septic systems due to pressure from state environmental officials.

Commercial/Industrial Standards Committee: One of the more poorly attended showings, this committee included C.F. "Chubb" Michaud, Schaefer, Peter Cartwright, WQA's Mark Rowzee, Ernesto Castro and new WQA president Jim Baker. If there were to be a cut in the number of committees, it wouldn't come as a surprise if this one was the first on the chopping block. Rowzee said he had wished for a better attendance. Schaefer requested a clarification of resin characteristic terms such as bypass, leakage, total hardness, TDS, among other terms. Clearly, the debate dragged on too long as the few attendees present grew impatient over the discussion.

Ion Exchange Task Force: Just the opposite of the C/I Standards gathering, this ion exchange meeting had a great turnout. By the end of the meeting, it was standing room only in a rather large room. Aside from chairperson Jeffrey Franks, other committee members included Michaud, Palkon, Keller, Jenke, Sandra Games, Regunathan, Rolfes, Dow's Jim Summerfield, Schaefer, Hatch, FitzGerald, Al Preuss, Laura Schmidt and Richard Hanneman. As the agenda is presented to the audience, FitzGerald moves to include a discussion of Standard 61 under "other business."

It was noted that 10 negative ballots were received in regards to the proposed NSF Standard 44. Harrison said "people thought the lowest salt setting should be chosen." Herman once again presented NSF's side on brine components and salt settings. Harrison suggests the average of the three lowest salt settings should be used as the yardstick. In response, Herman said the brine drawn should also be taken into account and wanted the committee to devise a saturated brine requirement. A 90 percent figure was tossed around by a few members and Andrew Kajpust made a motion to have a 90 percent saturated brine test eligible for a passing test that would include all three settings. The motion was seconded by Regunathan. Culligan, i.e., USFilter, reluctantly goes along with the motion but does ask for more data.

Michaud then presented a WQA technical bulletin update that he is spearheading. He took this opportunity to ask Preuss to have reports on ammonia and aluminum completed by June. Harrison also touched upon the water softener ban (SB 1006) in Santa Clarita, Calif. "It's factually not wrong," Harrison said. "It would not be right (for WQA) to sue over the law, and ask people to break the law. We will have to learn to live with the law. The numbers of the report are right." He continued that people, presumably members, have brought up banning powdered laundry detergents, garbage disposals, swimming pools, etc., in California but, "Politically, it would not fly."

Other members discussed using sodium bicarbonate rather than sodium chloride in water softeners. "It would put a plug to stop the first of many dominoes," said Schlafer. Jeffrey Franks made a poignant point when he stated that chlorine levels are high in California even without using a softener. He continued, "Other communities will look to California's SB 1006 as a road map to how to do it," referring to water softener bans. Going back to California, Michaud (who works out of the state) said the sulfate limit is 300 ppm when the municipal water is already at 285 ppm. Harrison went as far as to say that the Water Quality Research Council could fund a project in an attempt to avoid further bans.

The strategic plan was also discussed and one member asked where consultants such as Regunathan would fall under the new committee reorganization. Companies will have to choose only one designation (retailer, manufacturer, etc.), a few in the meeting concluded. Surprisingly, the WQA staff seemed just as much in the dark as association members concerning the proposed reorganization.

Next, FitzGerald had the opportunity to raise the issue of Standard 61within the POU/POE industry. He basically wanted to know if the standard was relegated to industrial or municipal applications and not in the home as well as a clarification between Standards 61 and 44. Loretta Trapp, an attendee from Clack Corp., suggested that one laboratory create extract vessels themselves and then have four labs—NSF, Underwriters Laboratories, National Testing Labs and Pace (who purchased Spectrum Labs analytical services earlier this year)—conduct the testing. Trapp speaks from experience as she was once chairperson of the task force in charge of writing related protocols and a former NSF manager.

Educational Services Committee/World Assembly Education, Ethics & Legal Committee: Richard Mest chaired the meeting, with Schaefer, Susan McKnight, WQA educational director Mark Rowzee, Peter Cartwright, Phil Olsen, John Packard, Ernesto Castro, Jim Baker and others in attendance. Much of the discussion centered on reaction to the Dateline NBC broadcast in February that pilloried a couple of water treatment dealers in West Virginia. It was suggested that a "crisis response center," or issue management program, be set up to minimize the impact that media attention on a few bad apples has on the rest of the industry. That included taking advantage of posting a WQA response to newswires popular with the media, using the Water Quality Society speaker's bureau as potential experts available for reporters to contact, and working with groups such as the Association of Investigative Journalists or the Society for Environmental Journalists to better educate the media on technical issues related to the industry. John Packard questioned how seriously companies—and the WQA—take ethics, considering some things he's seen on TV by WQA members that seem to be "blatantly" unethical. Rowzee noted that the WQA would consider holding its ethics courses, reserved in the previous year for regional education/certification events, again at the convention also in the future. The rest of the meeting discussed reorganization of the WQA based on the new strategic plan, which left many committee members confused as to the position of Educational Services, which of the four new committees it reports to and how its initiatives are seen through to fruition. In Sedona, Mest had suggested modeling a new committee on the Science Advisory Committee, whereby issues involving educational materials, testing and certification materials, and related interests for commercial/industrial, retail consumer products and international members were heard under the umbrella of Educational Services with the minutiae worked out in individual task forces or through liaisons. Baker pointed out that the strategic plan is really just an outline and now it's incumbent upon the committees to provide feedback through their section committees—Retail, Dealer, Manufacturers, C/I and International—which will set priorities for fleshing out the plan. "The positive thing is now we'll be recognized better," Mest said, "but the problem is getting issues to the decision-makers and making sure it moves efficiently through the pipeline."

Water Quality Society Steering Committee/Website Advisory Task Force: WQA staffer Lori Watkins and communications manager Jack Ferguson led the meeting which included chairman Schaefer, McKnight, Baker, Cartwright, Tami Castelli and Kristin Safran. Watkins noted that 1,298 people are currently society members. It was noted that one of the trade publications had allowed access to its articles to help build up the WQS article database and the two others had agreed to do so as well. A suggestion was made to contact new Canadian publications on the trade show floor and some other niche publications such as those for plumbing and ultrapure water. Fergoson pointed out that the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufactuers had approached the WQA about access to its database to find dealers with commercial/industrial expertise, which prompted a redesign of how this is presented online. Despite its ability to piggyback on goals of a few other WQA programs and the WQA website, he noted, the committee has no budget and there's a lot of work that remains to ensure a saleable product to prospective members. WQS, through its website also, is positioning to be the place where WQA books and training materials are distributed as the WQA online bookstore. That's one way Ferguson said WQS could leverage its funding. Baker was enthusiastic about the progress: "It (WQS) is at least three years old. We haven't had a product until today. And we've got 1,300 people who want to buy it."

Government Relations/Science Advisory Committee: Standing room only here as this committee acts as a catchall for WQA technical committees and task forces, with summaries given by smaller meeting chairpersons. Tyler Adams was first up for the Distillation Task Force and reviewed the discussion about a performance indicator device (PID) for Standard 62. A teleconference was to be held in early April to finalize verbage in order to provide an update to the NSF DWTU Joint Committee in May. Several labs are being contacted for round robin testing in April, hopefully, on monitoring requirements to evaluate PID options for chamber flooding, bypass and conductivity—as well as potential problems with "foaming." WQA's Harrison noted this will allow distillers certified to the standard to make nitrate-nitrite/microbial claims. The Distillation Study Guide revisions were finalized and a Certified Water Specialist exam is being written based on that. Ray Jaglowski went over the Microbial Issues Task Force agenda, discussing the HPC white paper first and then WQA support for a study by the University of Arizona's Dr. Chuck Gerba regarding the "beneficial effects of biocompetitive exclusion" of HPC in limiting pathogen populations in drinking water. He then asked for feedback regarding John Keener's concerns about introduction of microbial contaminants through air injection systems. NSF's Rob Herman spoke briefly on the issue, saying he could recall no specific studies related to iron oxidation and VOC reduction with air stripping, but there were some concerns raised regarding this in well casings as well as bottled water coolers (the last involving replacement air in the bottles). NSF's Blumenstein reviewed the request by the USEPA enlisting support of the NSF ETV program to begin testing ASAP of POU/POE equipment for efficacy against bioterrorism or related chemical agents. NSF is in the process of setting up a protocol using the EPA water purifier standard to draft this new microbial protocol. Blumenstein noted that the EPA was not looking particularly for corporate involvement in this process, but was seeking input. The plan was to do a blind study initially by taking POU/POE product off store shelves indiscriminately to see what sort of reduction capabilities they had when tested against potential bioterrorism agents in drinking water. The results would then be published without specifying particular brands to give public planners an idea of how well the equipment would respond in providing additional protection in an emergency. "The EPA is really pushing us," Blumenstein said. "They would like to have testing within six months and results out within a year." Responding to a question by WQA's Harrison about whether manufacturers could make claims for anthrax, for example, Blumenstein added, it's not clear whether the USEPA wants a general biological test or specific to anthrax, botulism, etc. "The ETV program is considering a one-time verification. It's not a certification. There's no pass-fail. Results are just reported out. But NSF may create a separate standard that could be used to that end." Because of the USEPA request and other ongoing work, Jaglowski said microbial task force members felt the task force should not be eliminated with the new strategic plan structure. WQA's Palkon reported results of the Ozone Task Force. He said the group was in the final stages of an ozone production standard and was making revisions based on NSF DWTU joint committee comments on Draft No. 10 that would require some round robin testing before returning it for further consideration. The task force also has been preparing a detailed white paper for use of ozone for reduction of specific contaminants, starting with manganese and iron. The idea is to include ozone in ANSI/NSF Standard 55 and a microbial standard for removal of contaminants with oxidation. NSF's Herman noted that most task force members are ozone generator manufacturers and may or may not have experience in systems development, which was necessary. Rainsoft's Kajpust presented the RO Task Force report, noting that the main topic of discussion was the same as at the Mid-Year conference in Sedona, Ariz.—data transfer for RO systems to allow assemblers to use membrane manufacturer testing data to reduce certification requirements for their products to ANSI/NSF standards. UL's Jenke said the proposal was balloted to the DWTU joint committee with some negative concerns regarding whether 1) data transfer would actually work, and 2) whether the criteria were accurate. Backpressure, recovery and efficiency, and worst case scenarios at atmospheric pressure vs. tank at shutoff were some of the issues raised. Specific contaminants such as nitrate/nitrite that may not fit into data transfer needed to be identified, and Jenke requested participants to forward related information to him. GE Osmonics' Jeff Franks gave the Ion Exchange Task Force report, mentioning ongoing discussion of proposed changes to ANSI/NSF Standard 44 regarding the brine saturation test. Of 16 WQA Technical Application Bulletins revisions, six remain to be drafted with completion targeted by the end of June. The ban on softeners in Santa Clarita based on the compromise in California Senate Bill (SB) 1006 was discussed, as were ongoing issues of confusion by plumbing code writers on differences between ANSI/NSF Standards 61 and 44 with respect to materials extraction. WQA's Palkon said there would be another attempt to harmonize the two standards. The Small Systems Committee report was given by EcoWater's Schlafer, who said the key order of business was Regunathan's presentation of four studies under way discussing POU/POE for public water system compliance, particularly small systems, regarding radium, arsenic and homeland security issues. Schlafer said the committee felt it should continue in some form within the new strategic plan structure. Culligan of San Antonio's Bob Boerner gave a special report updating the Texas Septic Tank Discharge Ban Issue, an effort ongoing since 2001 to turn around a planned ban of softener discharges into septic systems. (Click HERE if you'd like to read his presentation.) P. Regunathan, in a PowerPoint slide show, said there were six POU/POE Demonstration Projects for SDWA Compliance currently under way and gave updates on 1) a USEPA Demo Project in Grimes, Calif., administered by NSF International using Kinetico RO units for arsenic removal; 2) AWWARF Project 2730, POU as Treatment Technology, coordinated by Narasimhan Consulting Services and involving arsenic removal using undersink and POE alternatives in Stagecoach, Nev., Carson City, Nev., Unity, Maine, Sun City, Ariz., and Tucson, Ariz.; 3) AWWARF Project 2761, Alternatives for Drinking Water, coordinated by Stratus Consulting of Boulder, Colo., and targeting POU—faucet filters, GAC/carbon block, RO/GAC and carbon block/UV—in Contra Costa County, Calif., and Los Angeles residences. Culligan's FitzGerald gave another overview of the Illinois EPA Pilot POE Treatment Program on a small community water supply at the Royal Melbourne Country Club in Long Grove, Ill., northwest of Chicago, where total hardness is being used as a surrogate test for control of radium in the drinking water supply using softeners. WQA government relations director Carlyn Meyer led off the State Regulatory/Plumbing Code Task Force discussion by reviewing proposed revisions to the California and Iowa DWTU certification programs to streamline them and reduce testing redundancy with ANSI/NSF standards. She also discussed WQA's involvement with Canadian WQA on Quebec's attempts to limit products sold there to only ANSI/NSF certified POU/POE devices, slipped in plumbing code regulations with an initial deadline of Jan. 1, 2003. First wind of this was felt back in October, at which point Quebec officials seemed very reluctant to modify their position. Upon additional questioning as to how the measure would be implemented, however, they realized they may have been a bit hasty, according to Meyer, and now are seeking input from WQA, CWQA and the Canadian Instititute of Plumbing & Heating. State issues discussed included Michigan's plumbing code approval and septic tank discharge bans in the central part of the state's lower peninsula; New Jersey has similar issues; Hawaii is looking to allow consumers to deduct the cost of lead filters from state taxes, etc. Meyer said the Legislative Tracking Service enlisted last year was tracking at least 1,000 bills a week in February and March, the busy season for introducing legislation. She added that water conservation and drought issues are keeping POU/POE in the crosshairs in many states, particularly on the East Coast. Duane "Doc" Nowlin gave a presentation on California Salinity Task Force and WQA comments presented to the Los Angeles County Sanitation District. With respect to the banning of softeners—effective March 25—by Santa Clarita, he pointed out that SB1006 required certain conditions be met first: 1) a community had to be in violation of wastewater guidelines; 2) it had to be a violation of a water reclamation permit; 3) softened water had to be determined to be a major contributor; 4) banning softeners had to get them into compliance, and 5) all contributors must make some effort to contain the problem. Most felt Santa Clarita had used the legislation appropriately for the most part, with a few exceptions, and several options were presented in how to respond. Further details are provided under the California Salinity Task Force report below.

HPC, Legionella and Mold: In another well-attended session, Tony Frost (formerly of Aqua Europa) served as the moderator. Four speakers (with all three topics covered) used PowerPoint projections in their presentations. The first speaker, Chuck Gerba of the University of Arizona, spoke on HPC issues. His study centered on the amount of HPC in the average diet and whether or not HPC exists in POU devices. Tucson, home of the University of Arizona, was measured at 2.7 x 107 of HPC in its tap water and consumed per person on a weekly basis, which Gerba said wasn't a lot. One of the study's conclusions was that it was a good idea to have HPC in POU devices. Other conclusions were: HPC is antagonistic to enteric bacterial pathogens; this antagonism appears related to types of HPC, and not HPC concentrations; HPC is an important barrier to pathogens in drinking water, and HPC bacteria is less antagonistic to enteric viruses. It's important to note that the WQA partly funded the study.

Someone in the audience asked Gerba if bottled water were used in the study. Gerba said "no" but added it would be a good idea for future research. Gerba said confusion about HPC stems from the fact that it's a distribution issue, and not a tap water one.

Next, Joe Cotruvo, an NSF consultant, spoke about the WHO/HPC conference that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, last year. From that conference, Cotruvo said a few things were discovered—HPC increased from re-growth when the disinfectant residual was removed (among other components); HPC isn't a good pathogen index, and HPC is useful as a water treatment performance index.

Matthew Freije, of HC Information Resources, took the podium next and spoke about Legionnaires' disease. Public awareness is low, he said, and proceeded to read emails from survivors. There are 100,000 cases of Legionnaires' a year in the United States. About 65-80 percent of cases occur sporadically and aren't publicized or detected. For instance, no cause is found for 250,000 cases of pneumonia each year in the United States.

Sources of Legionnaires' include plumbing systems, cooling towers, etc. Biofilm is also a primary contributor. Residential studies show that the disease is found mostly in apartment high-rises. Freije went on to say that there's not enough data to show whether water softeners help or hurt Legionnaires' incidence. He suggests looking at possible alternatives such as electronic devices, but stopped short of endorsing such products. Typical filters, Freije asserted, don't remove Legionella. Ultraviolet, on the other hand, kills legionellae and is especially useful for immunocompromised persons. He also said that UV should be considered with new home construction.

Freije mentioned a few more tips such as flush new plumbing with chlorine, consider hot water recirculation, use piston arrestors over air chambers, and draw and clean the water heater annually.

Finally, Dr. Kelly Reynolds, of the University of Arizona, talked about how mold may affect water treatment dealers and their businesses. Her presentation was an abbreviated version of the article she wrote for WC&P (see On Tap, April 2003).

California Salinity Strategy Committee: Two primary issues captured the debate in this meeting, which included WQA's Meyer, South Bay Salt Works' Tracy Strahl and Culligan's Chris Layton as primary speakers early on in discussions. Those were the Santa Clarita softener ban, the first in California since the WQA won a court appeal in 1997 that went back to the late '70s—and an attempt by the city of Fillmore to burden softener owners with a surcharge for chloride discharges. In Santa Clarita, a possible drought resolution was discussed that extended the limit to 180 ppm from 100 ppm that would allow communities more leeway with wastewater limits in years of little rainfall. Some encouraging conversations were cited with respect to this and the possibility that Los Angeles County could be prompted to sue the USEPA over the issue, particularly because simply running tap water down the drain puts a community over the limit during a drought, said Strahl. Worry was that more communities would line up similar bans before this was done or a resolution reached. Other options at this point seem to be attacking the ban as singling out softeners without requiring more reductions by other contributors; replacing automatic softeners with portable exchange tank systems; promoting hot-side softening only; requiring hardness blending as is done in Germany; diverting wastewater to ocean outfalls; somehow delaying feed of regeneration discharge into city sewer systems until a time when greater flow meant better dilution, or developing alternate regenerants such as sodium bicarbonate. In Fillmore, opposition seemed to be an easier option since the community did no assessment of brine contributors to its waste stream, rather pulling data from the AWWARF LA County study, co-sponsored by the Water Reuse Association, Irvine Ranch Water District and WQA. Still, attendees were concerned at the $180 surcharge proposal by Fillmore's city attorney as a bad precedent. "It clearly does not meet the bar," Layton said. "The problem is it's a whole new approach; and when attorney's get involved, it's a whole different ballgame—a very dangerous one." Meyer mentioned the difficulty of framing the overall issue nationwide when the USEPA was concentrating on watershed management issues and total daily maximum loads (TMDLs)—adding that involvement of WQA members in such efforts locally was paramount to protecting the interests of the industry and the right of private homeowners to improve the quality of water in their homes.

Salinity Management Issues: This meeting, which began 20 minutes late, was short one presenter because Ken Thompson was snowed in at Denver's airport. "Doc" Nowlin gave a talk entitled "An Overview of the AWWARF Salinity Management Study." He discussed how the problem originated in California in the 1960s and '70s. Some effects included higher TDS, the increased use of recycled water and city bans on water softeners. From this, AWWARF planned to develop a model for predicting TDS loads with the contractor being CH2M Hill Inc.

The study began in the first quarter of last year and should finish early next year, Nowlin said. It was funded by AWWARF, various municipal water companies, the Water Reuse Association, and the WQA, which contributed $10,000. Five cities were chosen for the study—Irvine Ranch, Calif.; Santa Clara, Calif.; Monterey, Calif.; El Paso, Texas (high sodium), and Phoenix (high TDS). The Santa Clarita study concluded that water softeners contributed 70 percent of chloride in residential homes. This led to California's legislation, as discussed before.

Nowlin also mentioned a salinity management meeting last December in, coincidentally enough, Las Vegas. About 125 participants from 13 states attended the meeting. Other alternatives to a ban were talked about at the meeting and included—buy back automatic water softeners, allow exchange tanks only, hot-side only softening, require hardness bleed, collect and hail waste brine, treat inlet water with RO, and treat wastewater with RO. With the Santa Clarita study, chlorine spikes between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. were blamed on regeneration of water softeners. Nowlin predicted more softener bans. He added that some manufacturers are getting together to look at possible alternatives. A presentation was given by Lawrence Baker, of Arizona State University, on salinity management in municipal water supplies.

World Assembly Executive Committee: The meeting—what appeared to be the last for WAD as it would be converted into the International Section under the new strategic plan—began by relaying positive feedback on the return of the WQANewsFax and WQANews newsletters to the WQA website. From there the discussion got sometimes heated regarding how the World Assembly's interests were addressed by the new WQA strategic plan, in particular its representation on the WQA Board of Directors. The new plan calls for governance to be split with 10 directors for manufacturers, nine for dealers, two for commercial/industrial, two for retail and one for international. Non-U.S. members of the WAD Advisory Council, Danny Taragan (Israel), Gerry Barrow (UK) and Tony Frost (UK) all questioned this as a seeming afterthought. They also mentioned certain U.S.-centric language in the document they felt seemed to give more weight to this argument. They requested some modifications to verbage and noted they felt an equal number of seats as C/I and retail were warranted for "offshore" members, who make up 17.5 percent of WQA membership. They particularly worried about how the document would be perceived otherwise in Europe and elsewhere, since WQA-WAD has struggled in the past with its image as an extension of U.S. manufacturers abroad rather than representing international water treatment industry interests. WAD chairman Ray Jaglowski and WAD founding member Bill Prior pointed out that 1) sponsorship of shows in Asia, Brazil, Mexico and Amsterdam, 2) support of Aqua Europa, the Taiwan WQA and Philippine WQA; 3) success of the NSF/WHO HPC conference in April 2002 in Geneva, and 4) attention of the association to regulatory issues in around the globe underscored how far from the truth that was. They also noted that in strategic planning debates they argued for more, but felt to push harder risked fracturing an already fragile compromise between manufacturers and dealers—who traditionally have held exclusive control of WQA governance. They pointed out, with the assistance of WAD director Warnes, this was a good start and that it actually was a benefit in that international members would no longer necessarily be segregated from other WQA membership but could participate in the other sections as well. "It looks too good to come; I'm not really satisfied," Taragan said, saying "positive discrimination" (which someone else interpreted as "affirmative action") was necessary to change offshore members perception of the WQA. Jaglowski replied, "This is an evolutionary process. The allocation of votes may change. There may be some of these sections that may change…" Warnes pointed out that the strategic plan was just a shell to be filled in by the individual sections and committees: "Bear in mind, what is not necessarily forbidden is… They're just giving us a general plan and we get to determine how it works out in the long run." That meant those groups that were more proactive and organized about how they approach the new organization/governance structure will be those who reap the most benefits, he concluded. The committee discussed whether it should be renamed the "International Committee" and how to best handle the transition, winding up establishing an "Ad Hoc Committee" to that end encompassing the WAD executive and advisory committees.

WQA 2003 Annual Awards
Click HERE for a list of those people honored at the 2003 WQA Annual Awards Banquet.

Board of Directors Meeting: The WQA reported a net income of $42,000 before the convention. Board member John Rickert asked about the attendance of this year's show. The answer was 3,717 as opposed to 3,200 last year in New Orleans—a jump of 24 percent despite travel fears over the onset of war between the United States and Iraq on March 20. Membership grew by 343 with 425 cancellations. With 2,461 member, the WQA has an 83 percent retention rate. Audience attendance was about 20 and marked a drastic drop-off from last year. WQA executive director Peter Censky said there were 23 new exhibitors in Las Vegas as well as bringing in an IBWA presence. Pentair's Jorge Fernandez provided a manufacturers' meeting review and raised "burning" issues such as discharge, harmonization of standards, POU/POE, water usage, the influence of world regulations, channels to market, and improving the perception of the industry. Fernandez said the meeting discussion, however, was "less productive." He hoped to get back to the board with more specific objectives before the WQA Mid-Year Meeting.

Brita's Jim Mitchell, meanwhile, gave the consumer products' section review. He said there were very few participants and asked the WQA for outreach efforts to the retail sector. He also promised a more extensive report at the mid-year meeting.

Kinetico's Bill Prior, in an attempt to bring levity to the situation, was asked by WQA outgoing president Bob Ruhstorfer, president of Aquion Partners/Rainsoft, to give a review of the international section. Prior responded, "Is there an international section?" in reference to WQA's strategic plan. He added that the international section was "very excited" about the new plan's possibilities. Andy Warnes noted there were some concerns but the group approved of it overall.

For the commercial/industrial section, new WQA president Jim Baker said the group went through various applications and chose five to work toward. He described the group as "very focused" and was close to completing its stated goals.

Censky said the WQA was approached by the International Water Conference, an industrial application show, about partnering a trade show. Companies and attendance within that conference are decreasing due to job cuts. In addition, the Western Pennsylvania Engineering Society approached the WQA about a possible partnership. Censky said no commitments have been made. At this point, Baker interjected that WQA's John Ferguson was in talks with the National Association of Food Manufacturers about a possible arrangement. RAI Amsterdam and PennWell are also in discussions with the WQA that would morph the show into the "light commercial area," Censky noted.

Alluding to the strategic plan, Ruhstorfer said, "The devil is in the details." With that in mind, board member Bret Petty, of Aqua Systems, made a motion to approve the strategic plan. It unanimously passed with no dissentions. The only things close to an abstention was Missouri dealer Stan Fauth's motion to make the Board of Regents a separate entity from the four basic committees. His argument was that the WQA needed a committee with states' influence on standards. Baker still felt the plan should be accepted as drawn to avoid further delay. Ruhstorfer suggested putting Regents under the Members Services committee where the latter can decide what to do with it. Fauth requested a Board of Regents meeting at Mid-Year. Board member Margaret Wichman, a New York dealer, said that perhaps Regents could fall under the Government Relations committee.

Nebraska dealer Rich Lorenzen said he wanted to be included in C/I (where 60 percent of his business originates) but is currently listed as a dealer. With the implementation of the plan, one governor will be added (one dealer, one manufacturer and one at-large), and the nominating committee will be expanded to 12 members.

Censky said the WQA had three objectives for the Las Vegas show: increased attendance, increased exhibitors and an improved show. He says all three were met. The International Buyers' program brought in eight or nine new country delegations, Censky said. The show also lost three to four due to "the onslaught of the war," he asserted.

Still, "there's no city like Las Vegas in the world," Censky claimed. He envisions WQA conventions alternating Las Vegas with other regional locales such as Baltimore, Chicago, etc. Instead of dropping $65,000 on Paul Revere and his Raiders as it did last year, the WQA spent $5,000 this year on a jazz/pop band that was well received by the attendees.

Toward the end of the meeting, C.R. Hall asked Censky how the pavilion idea was coming along. The latter replied that it was doing well with the NGWA show but not so good at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show or the Builders' Show. Harrison also asked the board to ratify the new WQRC board and it passed. Finally, Petty gave a dealer section update and said he was "enthusiastic" about the strategic plan. He asked for outreach help from the WQA.

###

The WQA Mid-Year Leadership Conference will be held in Chicago to coincide with the Worldwide Food Expo, which is being held for the first time in collaboration with the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) at the McCormick Place Convention Center. Mid-Year is likely to overlap that event, but specific dates were still being finalized in early April. For more information, contact the WQA at (630) 505-0160 or visit its website: www.wqa.org


Click here to view a followup article:
  Ion the Industry: WQA Las Vegas--Foto Tour