WQA Mid-Year 2000

Not So Rocky Times
in Breckenridge:
National Leadership Conference 2000
By Carlos David Mogollón

Go to: Mid-Year Online Review Summary

Consensus seemed to be the order of the day-or week-in Breckenridge, Colo., as the Water Quality Association directors, governors, regents and committee and task force members met for the organization's Mid-Year Leadership Conference in this Rocky Mountain resort town Sept. 6-9.

The focus of topics under discussion revolved around arsenic, brine efficiency, septic tanks, fixture flow rates and small systems as well as commercial/industrial (C&I) standards, the Water Quality Society and efforts to recognize "emeritus" members of the association.

Prioritizing consensus
Wherever issues arose the focus seemed to be targeted on reaching consensus quickly and moving the issue along, either by making a decision or forwarding it to a group that could more readily act on it.

Examples include a couple of questions raised at the final board of directors meeting that were tabled for action by the WQA Board of Governors this month. Those include: 1) a request by the National Ground Water Association to endorse two bills it plans to promote in Congress on the rights of well owners, and 2) details of an "emeritus" program to offer recognition of and allow retirees with professional certification to remain affiliated with the industry.

A few committees or task forces-ethics and magnetics-were retired with their topics downgraded to agenda items for related committees.

Best foot forward
The WQA public relations campaign, launched during National Drinking Water Week in May, drew a lot of attention-not all of it positive-at the final Board of Directors meeting Sept. 9.

The five-year campaign-the first two years of which is being funded by a $150,000 war chest-is highlighted by spokesman Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey's trainer and co-author with her of the book Make the Connection, which focuses in on health and fitness issues (see http://oprah.oxygen.com/health/bob/health_bob_main.html). Major successes of the campaign include a "satellite tour"--where local markets could interview Greene via satellite-that won spots on about 50 TV stations and 20 radio stations--reaching nearly eight million people. The big coup came Aug. 24, though, when Greene appeared on the Today show, touting various water treatment options and health aspects of drinking water in front of its six million viewers.

Aqua Systems' Brett Petty--a board member--pointed out, however, discrepancies in some specifics of what Greene was saying in interviews don't quite mesh with advertising ethics of the WQA. In particular, Petty referred to comments on health claims associated with point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment equipment. For instance, Petty said, quoting a transcript: "You see some products here that make your water healthier." But POU/POE water treatment products generally are marketed only to improve aesthetics such as taste, color and odor of microbially safe water supplies.

"At one point," Petty said, "Mr. Greene said water treated with this equipment was safer than bottled water. While our products do make water more enjoyable to drink, it's critically important we maintain good relations with International Bottled Water Association and American Water Works Association. Therefore, we need to be careful of these comments."

Past WQA president Ned Jones, of Gordon Brothers, agreed with Petty but pointed out questions of interviewers are out of the control of the WQA and most cases he cited involved phrasing by interviewers to lead Greene in a particular direction.

Another board member Neal DeLettre, of Shelco, suggested simply a little better coaching for Greene before the next phase of the PR program was warranted: "Make sure he knows what questions might be asked and how to respond appropriately on critical issues."

Meanwhile, plans are under way for a second "hydration" campaign to coincide with the WQA convention in Orlando, Fla., next March. It was suggested that Greene be at the convention. Future events also will be linked in more with dealers so they can promote and tie into coverage in their local communities.

Back to school
The Educational Services Committee was busy at the Mid-Year Conference as the link between the C&I Section and the Water Quality Society as well as the new "emeritus" program.

Committee chairman John Rickert reviewed completion of the basic Certified Water Specialist exam unveiled at the Long Beach, Calif. convention in March, noting only 10 questions needed to be redesigned as a result. The next test scheduled for completion is the Certified Installers exam, which should be ready by the Orlando convention next spring.

Rickert discussed the need for certified individuals to take the Ethics Theater video course for recertification by 2003, stressing the amount of continuing education units available make up a third of what's required. The situational video replaces ethics questions in the old CWS exam and includes a workbook and leader's handbook. As a result, he added, it was agreed to disband the Ethics Committee and include the topic as an agenda item under the Education Committee.

He also announced initial plans for a "CWS-emeritus" category suggested this past summer by the Board of Governors for retired individuals who've contributed significantly to the industry and want to retain their connection to it. Later, however, that idea evolved into an "emeritus" award. Still, questions remained with respect to age, a minimum certification term, cost and how candidates would be selected. Chris Layton suggested the Board of Directors approves the concept of an "emeritus program" and allow details to be worked out by the Board of Governors.

The Board of Directors also approved a Certification Board whose sole task would be to maintain the Certification Program, which would include policies, testing, certification, recertification and appeals. Only certified members will be able to serve on the board. The group will get direction from the Board of Directors through the Educational Services Committee and that committee welcomes any members interested in providing input.

The future role of the committee will be to oversee educational curriculum for the industry and the association at trade shows and other events, Rickert said. He added that committee liaison Phil Olsen and C&I Section Chairman Roger Miller have already met on how C&I goals can be incorporated. Peter Cartwright is heading the C&I Education Committee, which is developing the schedule of technical seminars to be presented in Orlando.

Arsenic and carbon
Following up the question of potential leaching of arsenic from activated carbon raised by KX Industries' Evan Koslow at the Long Beach convention, WQA technical director Joe Harrison said retired Culligan technical director P. "Regu" Regunathan had been hired as a consultant to review data.

Koslow had claimed leaching from certain low grades of carbon used more commonly by municipal utilities aren't as carefully processed-acid- or water-washed and properly rinsed-and won't meet the new proposed arsenic limit in drinking water of 5 parts per million (ppm). Regunathan presented reports by KX, Barneby & Sutcliffe and Calgon Carbon Corp. on the subject. All three, however, used different methods to analyze the problem.

KX-suggesting 25 percent of carbon doesn't consistently meet the current 50 parts per billion (ppb) arsenic limit while 75 percent would exceed the proposed new standard-used more aggressive deionized water where a lower grade of carbon was allowed to stand for 72 hours. Barneby & Sutcliffe's Mohammed Bayati (see "Arsenic, Part 1 of 2: Impact of Proposed New Arsenic Standard on POU Carbon Filtration," WC&P, July 2000) sampled unchlorinated raw water after three successive 24-hour contact periods-per NSF 61 protocols-and found water-washed, coconut shell carbon measured at less than 3 ppb arsenic while acid-washed, coal-based carbon failed five of 12 tests at 5 ppb. Calgon Carbon's Rick Farmer used NSF 42's protocol and found the average arsenic level in water from acid-washed, coal-based carbon was 3 ppb (± 2 ppb), while that from acid-washed, coconut shell carbon was 1 ppb (±1 ppb). Non-acid-washed samples, however, averaged from 39-to-69 ppb, with some samples ranging as high as 267 ppb.

Dayton Water's Jim Baker noted since many assemblers and manufacturers use carbons outside of a cartridge filter, WQA should offer guidelines to assure proper quality control. WaterSolve International's Chip Landman said simply offering a standard backwash and rinse procedure prior to being placed in service should suffice. New Brita Products President Dan Carty was concerned about how potential increased use of higher grade carbons by municipal utilities might affect supplies. Harrison said that's not likely because higher volumes of water used by utilities mean: 1) water isn't usually sitting as long in carbon as in POU/POE devices, and 2) dilution lowers the arsenic level significantly. Thus, municipalities don't need to use acid-washed or rinsed carbons to meet the materials safety standard.

"They use a far lower grade of carbon than we could get away with," Harrison said.

Conclusion
Atlantic Filter's Jamie Wakem, who heads the 2001 Convention Committee, said the Orlando event's keynote speaker will be motivational speaker Keith Harrell, a former IBM marketing executive who also addressed the IBWA convention in Seattle last month. The Supremes and Mary Wilson are lined up for musical entertainment. And up to 50 hours of educational sessions--along with two days of commercial/industrial seminars--are scheduled.

The next convention will be in New Orleans in 2002. Possible sites for next year's Mid-Year Conference in September are Napa Valley, Calif., and Tucson, Ariz. Las Vegas is under consideration for the 2003 convention, with Phoenix, Anaheim, Calif., and San Diego as alternatives.