August 2003
Volume 45 Number 8
 

Pipelines: Board Tackles Strategic Plan & Brine Before Mid-Year Meeting
by Ronald Y. Pérez, WC&P Managing Editor   Pages: 

In May, the Water Quality Association (WQA) Board of Governors met at the group’s headquarters in Lisle, Ill., in an attempt to iron out details of the strategic plan that the board would like to unveil at the Mid-Year meeting in Chicago in late October. (The board was scheduled to meet again on July 7-8 as well as September.) “Personally, I’m very pleased with the progress on the strategic plan,” Greg Norgaard, of Culligan, said. Gerry Dierolf, also of Culligan, echoed the same after the May meeting, “Progress is being made and we are diligently working on it.” A new nomination system was also discussed, which is designed to add more members and make it more open.

The current WQA president Jim Baker, of AmeriWater, said, “When sections were developed in the strategic plan three or four years ago, the concept was the same as it is now, but we really didn’t implement them well because we weren’t ready to say, ‘These really represent the groups that make up our industry.’” He sees the new plan as much more “dynamic” where groups could include an education component, roundtables and perhaps town meetings. In addition, certain concessions need to be made to members who wish to serve on a committee as part of one group while attending other sections under a different category. The Mid-Year meeting is being used as a target date for the board but, as Dierolf admits, it may take until the next convention in Baltimore in March “before everything falls into place.”

All board of governors spoke of how eerie it was to have Charley Poellet at the first meeting, in seemingly great health, only to have him pass away shortly thereafter (see July People). His replacement on the board will be decided once that particular group (manufacturer/supplier) meets next. Norgaard said, “The whole organization is kind of reeling from that. Charley was a great guy and a very strong contributor to that organization, particularly in the Board of Directors and Board of Governors.”

Letters were sent to all WQA members informing them of the board’s actions at the first meeting where the brine discharge issue was, not surprisingly, a hot topic of discussion. “We, as an industry, have got to move forward on dealing with this brine discharge (from water softeners) thing, and not just in California. There is a bigger issue brewing through the United States,” Baker said emphatically. The problem? “We don’t really have any good research on it,” Baker answered. On the one side, the regulatory agencies are saying that brine is bad for septic tanks and, on the other side, the WQA says it has no bearing on the tanks. He conceded, “As an industry and trade association, one of the most important things we could do is develop some good (research studies) so we all know where we are at so it’s not just anecdotal yelling back and forth.” Part of the July meeting was spent flushing out the idea of brine discharge as a fundamental issue and putting an action plan together. One option may be to approach the Water Quality Research Council about conducting an extensive project. Baker compared brine discharge to a study sponsored by the USEPA that was done on soft water attacking piping systems over a four-year period with report updates.

Other topics were discussed in an attempt to “reinvigorate the association,” Baker said. One idea circulated was how to increase the attendance at trade shows, primarily the national conventions in March. The WQA plans on taking the show to the dealer, as in its decision to make Baltimore host city next year. “We need to go to them,” Baker said. The board certainly thinks teaming up with the IBWA will help attendance at the Mid-Year meeting as well as bring a breath of fresh air. Norgaard added, “A little bit of (change) is good. You don’t want to have anybody saying, ‘My God, what are they doing to the organization?’ This is going well and I am looking forward to it.”

See Breaking News at www.wcponline.com for further details or updates on these and other state and regional items of related interest.