Change — it’s one of the few things we can count on, day in and day out. These days, change seems to happen at the speed of light, and while it may seem overwhelming, the many opportunities it brings also can be exhilarating. 2013 is poised to bring a wave of changes to the water treatment industry — and with it, a range of possibilities for those ready to grab them.
Increasing globalization is affecting many business sectors, and the water treatment industry is no exception. Just as with other types of trade goods, water treatment systems and components are being imported to the U.S. from across the globe, especially from China. But, according to Rick Andrew, general manager of NSF Intl.’s Drinking Water Treatment Units program, the flow of goods is not a one-way street — water treatment products also are being exported to China for sale.
For companies ready to take on the challenge, the time is ripe to expand businesses internationally. One of the primary challenges is ensuring that products are certified to other countries’ regulations. Resources such as NSF’s Passport Program are available to help companies with this sometimes arduous process.
Another factor that could bring change around the world is the increasing scarcity of water resources. This became especially poignant in the U.S. in 2012, as the middle portion of the country suffered from a drought that lowered water tables and reservoirs in many areas. Many have been forced to consider alternative — and previously economically infeasible — water treatment and reuse options.
Once again, this challenge presents opportunities for players in the water treatment market. Frank Brigano, vice president, technology, for KX Technologies LLC, predicts an increase in applications such as greywater and rainwater reuse in the coming years. The chance will come for companies to implement new and existing technologies in innovative ways to help combat the water shortage and the treatment challenges it brings.
New and proposed regulations bring potential changes to the industry as well, at both the national and state levels. In less than one year, the federal lead law, which will require that all wetted plumbing products contain a weighted average lead content of less than 0.25%, will take effect. While some states already have implemented similar regulations, others will be facing compliance for the first time.
Several proposed California regulations — which have the potential to influence laws across the country—are on the radar in 2013. These include regulations that would be positive for the industry — the third-party certification bill and point-of-use bill — and negative — a regulation requiring green alternatives to chemicals in all types of products.
In an effort to help members of the water industry influence the outcome of these and other regulations across the country, the Water Quality Assn. has implemented a new legislative outreach program, providing guides on how to approach local and state legislators.
Although change can be difficult, the water treatment industry is not one to back away from a challenge — and turn that challenge into opportunity.