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August 2003: Volume 45, Number 8

Background on DWTU Standards
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor

Click HERE for Birth of the Gold Seal Program.

The history of the Drinking Water Treatment Unit (DWTU) Standards goes back more than 40 years. A WQA predecessor—the Water Conditioning Foundation (WCF)—was asked in 1959 by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to develop what became the Gold Seal S-series standards. A year later, it had its lab up and running and issued the first certification for its new softener standard.

NSF, at the behest of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), began developing DWTU standards in 1968 based initially on work done by WCF, which merged with the Water Conditioning Association International (WCAI) in 1974 to form the WQA. Meanwhile, NSF's first standard, Standard 42: DWTUs - Aesthetic Effects wasn't adopted until March 1973. It was followed by:
Standard 53: DWTUs - Health Effects (December 1981)
Standard 58: RO Drinking Water Treatment Systems (November 1986)
Standard 44: Residential Cation Exchange Water Softeners (December 1987)
Standard 62: Drinking Water Distillation Systems (May 1989)
Standard 55: Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems (May 1991)

Also in 1991, NSF's submission of the standards to the American National Standards Institute for that agency's approval of the rigid manner in which they were developed and maintained was rewarded with adoption as the national standards for DWTUs. All have undergone significant revision in the interim in a process that involves the DWTU Joint Committee, which includes NSF staff, the WQA, manufacturers, public health agencies and other stakeholders.

Shortly beforehand, efforts began to harmonize the NSF and WQA standards, which by this time included the following:
• S-100: Household & Commercial Water Softeners
• S-200: Household & Commercial Water Filters (In-Line)
• S-300: Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Systems
• S-400: Point-of-Use Distillation Drinking Water Systems.

"Over the past 10-15 years there's been a lot of effort to harmonize the standards," said NSF DWTU program general manager Tom Bruursema. "It predated me, but I think all of that was completed about 10 years ago—short of materials issues."

The intention was that as soon as harmonizing test methods for materials safety was finalized the WQA standards would be retired, he added, but it's been a bit more difficult to resolve the differences entirely. As such, they remain officially on the books. Still, today, virtually no state, plumbing or local building codes reference the S-Series standards any longer. Thus, reign the ANSI/NSF standards in point-of-use/point-of-entry water treatment.

FYI: Birth of the WQA Gold Seal Program

The following is from issues of WCF's Water Conditioning Reporter.

August 1959:
Board OKs WCF Product Test Laboratory
—Construction of the new lab will begin at once. Present plans call for the lab to be ready for first test runs by October 15. The WCF Board of Directors considered various plans for putting a product performance test program into operation at their meeting on August 12 in Philadelphia. After carefully considering the pros and cons, the Board felt it best for WCF to set up its own test lab. The advantages are many. Foundation members will be notified just as soon as possible as to when they can start sending in models to be tested. Present plans call for the setting up of three test stations for a start. It is anticipated that 100 models sent in by various manufacturers will be tested in the lab during the first year of operation. Should the demand warrant, further test stations up to a total of six may later be added. Upon completion of the product performance tests, manufacturers will receive written validation of the performance of their units.

WCF Members Approve Engineering Standards for Household Water Softeners—On July 10, a mail inquiry was sent to all members of the Foundation. At that time, members were asked to comment on whether they wished the Standards as approved at the annual meeting in May to be amended to provide for the bypass of hard water during the regeneration cycle of automatic and fully automatic softeners. It was pointed out that without the bypass provision, the standards would be unacceptable to the Federal Housing Administration. The FHA's acceptance of these standards not only has present significance but will be an important factor in their ultimate acceptance by the American Standards Association and the Commodity Standards Division of the Department of Commerce. Replies were received from a majority of members before the deadline of July 31. All but two favored including the bypass provision in the Industry Standards. On the basis of this expression of the membership, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to include the bypass provision in the Standards.

October 1959:
Lab Progress Report
—Walls are moving into place… well, not by magic, but by dint of persistent hard effort. All the plumbing and sewer lines are in. It was a nightmare of noise for two days as pneumatic drills attacked everything in sight. Their serenade of staccato tones was music to our ears, however, as they played their part in speeding the realization of the laboratory. Meanwhile, deliverymen are haunting us with almost daily deliveries of flowmeters, valves, open-top tanks, centrifugal pumps, monometers, etc., etc., etc… Plans are moving forward right on schedule. Every indication is that the lab will be ready for shakedown tests by the 15th of this month.

A Most Important Lab Ingredient—While essential to the functioning of the new lab, the valves, tanks, pipes and other items of equipment are merely the tools with which to do the job. The job itself calls for a knowing, alert, eager and impartial individual to run the tests. The Board of Directors considered these and other qualifications necessary in the personal make-up of the man they wanted for the post of technical director for the Foundation. After careful consideration of the requirements, they have selected an individual with just the right background and blend of qualities. Their choice—Richard Weickart—a young man with broad experience in the water conditioning industry and to-the-point know-how in setting up a lab. Dick reported for work on September 15. He went right to work supervising the lab installation. Actually, his work had begun even earlier, for he worked closely with members of the Engineering Committee in setting up plans for the lab during the summer by providing diagrammatic layouts and setting up lists of tools and equipment necessary to put the lab into operation. The new WCF lab will be the fourth wherein Weickart has played an important role in its development. His career has been devoted exclusively to research and technical work in the water conditioning field. Thus, he comes to his new position well qualified for the assignment. During more than 10 years devoted to the technical phases of the industry, he has worked for Culligan Inc., Hills-McCanna (makers of chemical feed pumps) and the Whirlpool Corporation. He has attended Illinois Institute of Technology, Wright Junior College and Northwestern University. And during World War II, he spent 2-½ years with the Seabees in the Pacific Theater of operations.

August 1960:
WCF Gold Seal Unveiled
—The gold seal which will shortly be seen on thousands of water softeners made its first appearance at the Spring Conference, which drew a record attendance of 125 members and guests. This gold and blue seal won the immediate respect of the group. Foundation Secretary-Manager Dick Breeden outlined the program under which the seals will be made available. He announced that the Board of Directors had set the price of the seal at 12 cents each. The funds accruing from the sale of the seals will be used to promote the various aspects of the seal promotional program. In addition to trade magazine and consumer publication publicity in behalf of the seal, an intensive program is to be beamed at lending institutions. The Foundation has prepared a 3-color brochure which shortly will be mailed to 12,500 banks, together with order forms. The piece is designed to tell the homemaker the Water Conditioning story—that FHA financing is available for those wishing to buy softeners. To underline the close relationship of the financing of units and their sales, it urges the potential buyer to seek the advice of the banker. These brochures are meant for use on counters or as mailing pieces with monthly statements. While it is too early to indicate what the full success of this program will be, indications are that several million of these booklets will be distributed within the next 12 months.