The Water Quality Association (WQA) held its annual conference and trade show on March 5–9 in New Orleans, La. As if the
excitement and history of the town wasn’t enough to entertain attendees,
they also were welcomed to the exhibition by keynote speaker Larry Winget,
whose dry humor had the audience roaring with laughter. His message: Take
responsibility, be helpful and flexible to your customers and have fun.
The trade show featured many new products from its more than 220 exhibitors. The conference seminars featured topics ranging from business management to various technologies and from standards and regulations to marketing.
If one theme stood out more than any at the WQA Show it was
to reach out to new marketplaces. Go where you never before considered. Every
homeowner works somewhere, and every employee has a home. Don’t be afraid
to talk to everyone about their water quality and treatment.
For example, the WQA is focusing attention this year to
reaching out to health fitness professionals—not through health clubs,
but through the trainers themselves. “It is a great fit,” explained
Pete Censky, executive director of WQA. “We will use Bob Greene’s
natural audience—fitness professionals.”
The WQA will continue to educate consumers and now trainers
on the importance of hydration, home water treatment and helping consumers
understand which technologies are best suited for their needs. This year the
WQA will be exhibiting at the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando
and at the IDEA show in San Diego (an international association for health and
fitness professionals). Not only is the WQA reaching out to these markets, but
also continues reaching out directly to consumers. The WQA will be featured on
a five to seven minute program on the House & Garden Channel to discuss
home water treatment. In addition, with a small 1-inch blurb in Parade
magazine, the WQA received an astonishing 3,700 calls requesting additional
Despite taking place first thing in the morning, the
bioterrorism seminar was well-attended. The messages here were simple: You must
have emergency plans in place. Dealerships all should have emergency plans (for
more threats than just bioterrorism) in place including a list of phone numbers
and a chain of command to follow.
A list of possible agents that have been weaponized and possible targets such as source water, single buildings or distribution systems were presented.
The Army currently is conducting research on biological
agents, but chemical agents cannot yet be addressed.
It was agreed that the nation’s pipes and infrastructure
is where the real threat is to our water systems and not at the plant. POU/POE
effectiveness also was discussed, and Donald Reasoner, chief micro at U.S. EPA
Risk Reduction Engineering Lab, said that research is needed “in order to
figure out what role POU/POE devices will play in protecting against a
For the first time ever, bottled water made its appearance
in the WQA seminars. A broad range of topics was presented to bottled water
dealers and those interested in getting into the business. Topics included
source location and development, regulations and managing a bottled water
business. The bottled water sessions were well-received by dealers. It was
reported in the retailer/dealer section that more than 60 percent of dealers
are either in or considering getting into the bottled water business. Such high
numbers have forced WQA to take a look at this market and serve its members
that are involved in that sector. The bottled water sessions were the first
step. The next one? Perhaps a bottled water section meeting. Although dealers
said they would consider such a section, many commented that their needs still
may be met through the retailer/dealer section and that might be all that is
necessary. Further discussions will take place on that subject. “The
International Bottled Water Association puts on a great program, and we do not
want to redo what they have already accomplished and duplicate what they can
offer,” commented C.R. Hall, Culligan dealership owner and 2001-2002 WQA
The WQA Mid-Year will be Sept. 11–14, Hilton Sedona,
Sedona, Ariz. The 29th WQA Annual Convention and Exhibition is March
18–22, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev.