WQA Aquatech educational sessions provide industry updates

March 31, 2014

Three useful presentations stood out from several attended by the Water Technology team.

WQA Aquatech 2014 earlier this month in Orlando was a worthwhile and rewarding show with a host of educational sessions for exhibitors and visitors.

The Water Technology team was able to attend a variety of educational sessions at the show, three of which stood out for the valuable information presented.

On Tuesday, March 18, Stuart Mann, CWS-VI of the Water Quality Association (WQA) gave two back-to-back presentations on sustainability in our industry. The first outlined the need for sustainability regulations and the steps WQA has taken to address that need, and the second looked to the future and the regulations still in development.

WQA has been working to define sustainability standards since it became clear it was necessary in 2008, enlisting a variety of stakeholders for input including municipalities, regulatory/government organizations, NGOs, manufacturers and academia.

“The industry reached a tipping point in 2008,” said Mann. “If our industry doesn’t define sustainability on our own terms we run the risk of it being defined for us.”

So far, WQA has created the following sustainability standards, issued in the middle of 2013:

  • WQA S-801: Sustainable Management — A prerequisite for the following two standards, this standard evaluates the management practices and overall sustainability performance of the company, covering corporate-level responsibilities.
  • WQA S-802: Product Sustainability for Activated Carbon — This standard covers product sustainability for raw activated carbon.
  • WQA S-803: Product Sustainability for Activated Carbon Water Filtration Systems — This standard covers water filtration systems that use activated carbon.

WQA started with activated carbon sustainability standards because of its wide-ranging use in the industry and because production of raw activated carbon has traditionally been “a very dirty industry,” according to Mann.

Companies can earn points toward certification by making their carbon from coconut shells, using closed pit charring or taking other measures that protect health and safety.

Two companies have been certified to these standards so far: 3M has been certified to WQA S-803 and Kuraray Chemical Co. has been certified to WQA S-802, while several other companies are currently involved in the certification process.

“The standards are serving as a roadmap” for companies to become sustainable, Mann explained. “It’s a learning process for the whole industry."

Looking toward the future, WQA plans to release sustainability standards for UV, dispensers/coolers/fountains and RO by 2015. By 2016, the organization plans to release standards for softeners, ozone and distillers.

As these standards are developed, they will all fall under the umbrella of WQA S-802 and S-803, which will be renamed for ‘Sustainable Process Medium Products for Drinking Water Treatment’ and ‘Sustainable Drinking Water Treatment Products,’ respectively.

Also on Tuesday, Thomas Sorg, PE, of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Supply & Water Resources Division, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, gave the presentation “Barriers to POU for Compliance.”

Sorg discussed the reasons why POU technologies are not considered small system compliance technologies (SSCT) according to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and are not used for community water supply (CWS) compliance.

In the U.S., about 20 states have said they would allow POU devices for CWS compliance, about 14 have certain hesitations and caveats to doing so and 15 have said they would not do so, according to Sorg.

Sorg listed a number of reasons that POU systems have not been used for CWS compliance, including the staff and money it would take to oversee such a system and the difficulty of gaining access to people’s homes to monitor the systems.

On Wednesday, March 19, Tanya Lubner, Ph.D. of the WQA gave a demonstration on the show floor of WQA’s new Modular Education Program, which simplifies training, makes it available anywhere and helps get new employees producing faster.

Lubner explained that the new program is accelerated, manageable, practical, portable, inclusive and path-oriented.

Currently, the education program is book-based, which requires a large amount of reading and is not portable.

“People who already work full-time plus can fit [the new program] into their day more easily,” Lubner said, noting that the new program is cloud-based, with all information online, and organized into “badges” in specific topic areas with a handy dashboard that tracks progress, so students can stop and come back to the certification process at any point. The books used currently were all brought online as a searchable “Knowledge Base” for reference, and minimal reading is required to take the online tests and complete the necessary fieldwork.

In addition, anyone can use the education modules, including administrative support staff, to become more knowledgeable without necessarily gaining certification. For example, the complicated world of advanced water chemistry does not come into the modules until the CWS level. The path-oriented program has three levels: The foundational level, where students learn basics and fundamentals; the core level, where sales, design, installation and service paths emerge; and the advanced level, where education for master designer and master service professionals takes place.

While the Knowledge Base content for Basics and Fundamentals became available in January 2014, the courses for that level just became available this month. The CWR and CI portions of the Core curriculum and Knowledge Base content supporting those certifications will be available beginning August 2014. The CWS curriculum and CST will become available by the end of 2014, and the Advanced curricula for the Master Water Specialist and Master Service Tech will be available in March 2015.

These sessions were just a small part of the many, worthwhile presentations given at WQA Aquatech 2014. Attendees were surely able to gain a wealth of knowledge from the educational sessions this year both on and off the show floor.

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