From March 18-21, 2014, WQA’s The Water Opportunity Show™ truly emphasized why this show is “Where the Industry Meets!,” as noted by the association. According to the WQA website, “WQA Aquatech USA is a one-stop event that connects technologies, know-how, education, training, networking and business opportunities to multiple water industries.”

And, this year’s show did not disappoint in Orlando, Fla. Water Technology was on hand took advantage of the many sessions and events off the show floor. Here is a recap of what our team saw and heard at this year’s show.      

Opening remarks and recognizing industry leaders

The opening general session of WQA Aquatech 2014 provided a recap of the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) work this past year, a peek into the coming year’s goals, elections to the board of directors and an awards ceremony.

During the Opening General Session, Donald McGhee of Hydro Systems Inc. moderated a roundtable discussion with Richard Mest of Master Water Conditioning Corp. and WQA board president (2013-2014), WQA’s Executive Director and CEO Dave Haataja, Douglas “Sam” Karge of Pentair and WQA board president (2014-2015) and WQA’s Treasurer Bret Tangley.

The roundtable discussion, themed “a revealing dialogue on the value of being a WQA member,” offered insight into current trends and issues affecting the industry and examples of how the association is working hard to advance our industry and its dealers.  

For more of what was discussed at the roundtable, visit: https://www.watertechonline.com/articles/167928-roundtable-discussion-highlights-at-opening-general-session.

Elections to the board of directors included four categories: Manufacturers/suppliers, dealers, commercial/industrial and retail channel.

The following manufacturers/suppliers were elected to the board:

  • Frank A. Brigano, Ph.D. of KX Technologies LLC
  • Scott Clawson of Culligan International
  • Stephen Ver Strat of Access Business Group LLC

In the commercial/industrial category, Cedella Beazley of Dow Water & Process Solutions was elected to the board.

Dealers elected to the board included:

  • Ronald Edwards, CWS-III of Hague Quality Water of Maryland Inc.
  • Thomas Harrington of DS Waters
  • Donald K. McGhee, CWS-VI of Hydro Systems Inc.
  • Michael J. McGowan, CWS-IV of McGowan Water Conditioning Inc.

Robert Maisner of Paragon Water Systems was elected to the board in the retail channel.

Twelve awards were presented at the 2014 WQA Aquatech awards ceremony.

To see who won awards this year, visit: https://www.watertechonline.com/articles/167940-wqa-holds-elections-bestows-awards-at-aquatech-usa-2014

Keynote address

The bestselling author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, Charles Fishman, delivered this year’s keynote speech.

“Water hasn’t changed that much in the last 50 years,” said Fishman. “Some of the conventional wisdom about water is wrong.” But, according to Fishman, “The revolution … is finally coming to water,” as water crises around the world are making those inside and outside the industry understand the urgent need to change the way we think about our water and how it is used.

Traveling the world over the last five years, Fishman has observed the way different countries interact with, think about and use their water. Fishman compared the U.S., where certain states have been crippled by drought in recent years, with Australia, a country that endured an impressive 10 years of drought. In India, he continued, there is more than enough water to go around, yet more than half the population doesn’t have access to clean, safe water. An “international water crisis,” he says, doesn’t exist. Very specific water crises all over the world can and must be dealt with on a local level.

Fishman believes the developed world has been living in “a golden age of water” for the past 100 years, where water’s value has become invisible. Now, he said, we are entering the age of “smart water,” where the industry must find out how to get the most out of water using advanced technologies.

For example, a village in India where women carry water for miles on their heads, spilling much of it as they go, is not practicing smart water use. But, an IBM chip factory in the U.S. that has created its own water division to use as little water and reuse as much as possible is a pioneer in smart water.

“The hard part,” he said, “is the human part. Getting people to see water clearly and behave differently.”

Abundant educational opportunities

Water Technologywas also able to attend several educational sessions. On March 18, Stuart Mann, CWS-VI of WQA gave two back-to-back presentations on sustainability.

WQA has been working to define sustainability standards, enlisting a variety of stakeholders for input.

“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.

“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.

“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.

The path-oriented program has three levels: The foundational level, the core level and the advanced level.

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 remaining content will become available over the coming months, with full availability by March 2015.

To read more on WQA educational sessions, visit: www.watertechonline.com/articles/167946-wqa-aquatech-educational-sessions-provide-industry-updates.

These sessions were just a small part of the many, worthwhile presentations given at WQA Aquatech 2014. Hope to see you next year.