There is not a lot we can do individually or even as an industry to change the overall direction of a sputtering economy. But, in 2013 there will be legislative challenges and opportunities that have the power to affect our businesses in major ways. In addition, we need to be mindful that regulators are always drafting potential new restrictions on our products. WQA and local leaders are using all our resources to protect our industry, including lobbyists, personal contact with policymakers as well as public education, as effectively as possible. Here’s what to watch for in the coming year:
California third-party certification bill attempt
WQA continues to be hopeful that a bill allowing third-party certification will pass in 2013, but the legislative process around this time is often fairly slow for everyone involved. The California governor’s office and Department of Public Health have committed their support and key special interest groups are also supportive. A new legislature was sworn in early this month. Typically, there is a long process before bills start getting passed. Staff needs to be hired, committee assignments made and chairmen chosen. This process will be even longer now because the number of new members has doubled after redistricting.
While there will be a good deal of waiting, we are also actively working to shape the legislation when the opportunity arises. We are seeking to have it designated as an emergency bill, which would speed up the process. And, we are pushing for the “effective date” to be earlier than normal. Under usual circumstances, a bill passed in the coming session would not take effect until January 2014.
If the bill is passed, companies would no longer be required to wait for the state to certify their products. Instead, accredited third-party certification will be acceptable. There are some conditions, but the change would help move products to consumers more quickly.
California POU bill
The point-of-use (POU) bill originally put forward in California last year as SB 962 is still alive. As the law now stands, only communities with fewer than 200 service connections are allowed the option of using POU/POE devices where central treatment is not economically feasible. Legislation passed the state Senate last year to make this option available to larger communities, for up to 2,500 connections. It’s unlikely that a bill will ultimately pass with a number that high, but a major increase beyond 200 is very possible next year. Recently, WQA provided testimony on POU/POE devices at a hearing designed to ensure that rural and impoverished communities have access to safe water.
Passage by California of any bill to increase POU/POE will be a boon to final barrier approaches elsewhere.
Our industry and others will continue to monitor proposed new “green chemical” regulations from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control. WQA joined the Green Chemistry Alliance this fall, a large coalition opposing the proposed new chemical regulations as they have been drawn. In general, the regulations are vague and broad and could be very damaging to the industry.
Nearly every industry doing business in the state is expressing concern. Under the rules, green alternatives would replace hazardous chemicals in nearly every walk of life, from product packaging to furniture to household cleaners to clothes and so on. The regulations don't include clear or science-based processes and could allow penalties from imposing product restrictions to outright bans.
The Alliance is pressing hard for changes to many parts of the original proposed regulation. Among other members of the Green Chemistry Alliance are: Amway; Boeing; the California Chamber of Commerce; Chevron; Dow Chemical; DuPont; Ecolab; ExxonMobil; Goodrich; Honeywell; Johnson and Johnson; Northrop Grumman; Proctor and Gamble; and dozens of other associations and companies.
Arizona Salinity Committee
According to the head of the Arizona Salinity Committee, legislative solutions are not likely to be attempted in the 2013 session. Representative Karen Fann, who oversaw the creation of the committee, said she will push for a bill only if there is a good product that has been vetted by all stakeholders and has enough support to have a 90 percent chance of passing. Otherwise, a bill should not be introduced until 2014, she said.
Representative Fann has challenged the Committee to think in terms of short-, mid-, and long-range solutions. It has been suggested by various committee members that addressing the contribution of water softeners is something that can be done short-range; that mid-range is addressing concentrate management — how to reclaim and reuse wastewater; and, long-range (40-50 years from now) is to remove salt before distribution, having a wastewater pipeline to the ocean.
The Salinity Committee was created by legislation in 2011 to look at comprehensive solutions to salinity issues in Arizona. It includes a wide range of stakeholders.
Lead-content law takes effect in 2014
The law mandating reduced lead content is scheduled to take effect in less than one year. This means manufacturing may need to be retooled and inventory should be examined. The new federal law mandates that starting January 2014, pipe, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures must meet a weighted average lead content of 0.25 percent. Many states have already implemented their own versions of the law. Several NSF/ANSI standards address new lead-content mandates and WQA provides testing and certification.
WQA has initiated a Legislator Outreach program, designed to help association members to connect with their legislators and discuss the benefits of our (WQA) products and services. A handbook provides key suggestions on how to go about establishing strong relationships. WQA is providing individualized briefings to members about each legislator, offering one-page summaries of their background and critical positions, particularly related to business and water issues. We are also providing briefings on the state of politics in the state to ensure that the member goes into their meetings fully informed.
The Water Quality Association (WQA) is a not-for-profit international trade association representing the residential, commercial and industrial water treatment industry. WQA maintains a close dialogue with other organizations representing different aspects of the water industry in order to best serve consumers, government officials, and industry members. WQA is a resource and information source, a voice for the industry, an educator for professionals, a laboratory for product testing, and a communicator to the public.