Reverse osmosis, membrane filtration, desalination … just a short list of terms I had to explain to friends and family when I became the editor of Water Quality Products several years ago. Similar to many consumers who haven’t had a direct encounter with the water treatment industry, my friends’ knowledge of water quality started with, “It tastes good” and ended with, “Is it safe, should I be concerned?”
Things have definitely changed. Maybe because the topic of water quality seems to come up a lot when I’m around, or perhaps because there is more awareness about water quality in the mainstream media, today, my friends seem to be quite knowledgeable of various treatment processes.
I wouldn’t mind taking some credit for my friends’ interest in water quality, but the truth is consumer awareness about water is higher than ever simply because this type of information is more widely available. For example, a new TV ad from the GE Ecomagination campaign cleverly titled “Fishing for Water” introduces consumers to GE’s desalination technology, “harvesting over 3 billion gallons of water from the sea each year.” From the comfort of their living rooms, consumers can learn not only about the dangers of poor water quality, but also about technologies and solutions to remedy the problem.
Another interesting example is the recent www.consumerreports.org  article titled, “Product certifications: On the mark,” which reviews a list of certification marks for common household products, as well as a description of what the various marks mean. The article was featured in the Home and Garden Section of the site in February 2007.
Among various logos, symbols and acronyms, the report also featured the NSF Mark, as well as WQA’s Gold Seal Mark.
The report taught consumers that certification marks are issued for a wide range of categories for consumer products and that marks are important because they show “that a product has been examined and tested by a third party—the certifying lab—which is attesting that the design, construction and performance of the product meets some voluntary industry standard.” It also explained that without certification, only the manufacturer’s word guarantees the performance and safety of the product.
These examples demonstrate that there is an significant increase in consumer awareness of water and the quality of the different treatment technologies available on the market. I think consumer awareness is always followed by increased interest and desire for more information.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: As consumers’ interest in water quality increases, they will trust those who are knowledgeable and can provide better service. In order for our industry to keep up with consumers’ hunger for information, water quality professionals must continue to gain industry knowledge. One of the best ways to do this is to attend the WQA Aquatech USA 2007 show in Orlando, March 27 to 30. I encourage you to attend the upcoming show and take advantage of the various educational opportunities WQA Aquatech USA 2007 has to offer.