In the Months Ahead

After another busy year, it is time to take a look forward to the issues and developments that will likely have the greatest impacts on the water treatment industry’s growth and direction in 2006. In the upcoming year, the industry will experience the results of past efforts while setting the stage for new projects and goals.

Starting in January, all across the country, water suppliers will be impacted by the new arsenic limit of 10 ppb in public drinking water supplies. According to the EPA, more than 90% of the systems affected by the revised rule serve populations of 3,300 or less. Due to financial limitations, thousands of systems currently do not have a solution in place.

In an effort to help small drinking water utilities comply with the revised arsenic rule, the EPA released a set of user-friendly multimedia products in December 2005. One of these products is the Arsenic Virtual Trade Show (www.arsenictradeshow.org), a learning portal for arsenic treatment technology, which offers a database of vendors, a treatment “decision tree” and tips for evaluating treatment providers. This site is designed to provide information to owners and operators that will guide them in making treatment decisions.

Arsenic will remain in the spotlight throughout 2006, and Water Quality Products will continue to report on any important issues and developments.
Another topic certain to receive a lot of press coverage in 2006 is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) position on the health effects of calcium and magnesium levels in drinking water. NSF International and the International Life Sciences Institute are planning The International Symposium on Health Aspects of Magnesium and Calcium in Drinking Water. This NSF/WHO Collaborating Center event will be held April 24-26, 2006 in Baltimore, Md. Because water softeners and RO systems take calcium and magnesium out of the water, potential conclusions that these elements are beneficial or recommended in drinking water could have a significant impact on the POU/POE industry. Experts believe the symposium will offer a scientific assessment of the matter.

On the bottled water front, water taxation is still a pressing issue. In an effort to improve groundwater management, some states are trying to implement a tax on users of groundwater, specifically targeting bottled water companies.

Recently, The Christian Science Monitor published an article titled “In Selling Maine’s Fresh Water, Does Maine Get a Cut?” According to the article, a group has launched a citizen’s initiative to impose what is believed to be the first-in-the-nation tax on water for companies that extract and sell water from the state’s aquifers. The group has proposed a 20-cent-per-gal tax that is applied to companies extracting more than 500,000 gal per year for containerized resale.

Poland Springs, the largest bottler in the state, which draws 500 million gal of water a year, would be hit hardest. According to the report, more than 50,000 signatures are required to get the tax proposal on the ballot in 2006.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has been working hard to face challenges in the area of groundwater management. Data from the Drinking Water Research Foundation demonstrates that bottled water accounts for less than 1% of all water extracted from the ground. If water taxation is implemented, according to the IBWA, all users of groundwater should be treated equitably.

While the topics addressed in this report only provide a glimpse of what’s to come in the months ahead, we have collected outlooks on the state of the industry from top industry professionals in the article “What’s in Store for the Water Industry in 2006?” beginning on page 6. We hope their views will help you better manage projects in the year to come.

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