May 2004
Volume 46 Number 5

EXTRA: Liaison Status Underscores Positive Shift for WQA in Europe
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor   Pages: 

As far as the Water Quality Association (WQA) is aware, its winning liaison status within CEN—the European Committee for Standardization, an organ of the European Union—makes it the first non-European association to achieve this.

“In any one of a number of industries,” Warnes said, “no association has achieved this. Telecommunications hasn’t. Transportation hasn’t. Aerospace hasn’t. Water treatment has. And we’re unique being a trade association with strong European interests in achieving liaison status for our product. Right now, it’s an ex-officio seat. We can observe and make technical comments. We can’t vote. But it’s important because today’s voluntary standards look set to become tomorrow’s regulation. It’s a critical time for our industry to be involved.”

The new WQA status is also beneficial to CEN, he added.

“It opens them up to the wide technical expertise of our industry in this standards development process,” said Warnes. “Still, we’re very sensitive to the fact that many Europeans view us as an American association, despite the fact that our members come from more than 60 countries. And, in Europe, WQA members form more than 65 percent of the POU/POE industry. In some countries— the United Kingdom and Italy, for instance—there are more WQA members than members of their national association.”

Those national water associations form the nucleus of Aqua Europa, a federation of associations the WQA helped found in 1978 that doesn’t accept corporate memberships. Rather, it’s national representatives serve as the unofficial secretariat for water standards harmonization within CEN through Task Committee (TC) 164 and Working Group (WG) 13, both of which focus on water supply issues—the last with a focus inside buildings. It is here where the WQA will be able to finally have a seat at the table. By contrast, even a number of European organizations, such as the European Point-of-Use Drinking Water Association (EPDWA), International Water Association (IWA) or European Desalination Society (EDSOC), don’t have a direct voice within CEN (see: CEN Liaisons).

“Now, we’re out to show that we’re a good partner and understand we have to work cooperatively,” Warnes said. “What’s interesting is TC 164, which covers water supply, not only has groups that develop standards for POU/POE equipment, they also have responsibility for far-reaching segments like municipal supply, piping systems, etc. POU/POE is just a small part of its purview. So, WQA members—current or future—with interests in those areas can become involved in development of standards those other areas through the WQA as well.”

This implies potentially greater influence for the WQA—and potential new members—as it joins forces with Aquatech RAI to promote an expanded trade show, WQA Aquatech USA, and attract additional participation from industrial water and wastewater companies, etc., that may want an ear at the door of European harmonization talks.