Slightly Slighted by Report


A small mention in a report, "Drinking Water Customer
Satisfaction Survey," by the Gallop Organization enlisted by the EPA,
rubbed me the wrong way. I'll be honest with you ... in this 14-page or so
report it was only one sentence that had me irked. Such few words seemed to
undo what our industry works for and that is greater awareness to the public
and government about what our products really can do. Considering this report
went to our government/EPA and on permanent record, I hope that it will not be
misinterpreted. Perhaps I read too much into it, but it bothered me.

All that being said, here is the judgement made in the
report: "EPA's database indicates 94 percent of Americans are drinking
water that meets federal standards. Therefore, a number of Americans may be
taking unnecessary and costly precautions." These precautions were not
mentioned specifically, but the statement was written within the section
discussing water treatment devices and bottled water use. I interpreted that as
a dreadful statement for us. Although the United States has the "cleanest
drinking water in the world," current standards do not mean our industry
cannot offer the public an even higher quality of water to protect against
unpredictable events such as E. coli or Cryptosporidium outbreaks, aid
municipalities in lowering contaminant levels even more, treat water for well
owners or offer more aesthetically pleasing water. This just seemed to be an
awfully bold statement based on results of a small study of 1,000 American
households that was simply inquiring about knowledge, communications and use.
Can you officially conclude that people using devices and bottled water are
wasting their money just from these numbers alone?

I am not attacking the report entirely. There were helpful and
interesting facts that can benefit dealer efforts. The survey assessed drinking
water consumer knowledge, water use, public confidence with information sources
and the value placed on EPA's right-to-know efforts. Ninety-four percent of
those surveyed were able to identify whether or not they were on a well or
community water system, which demonstrates that Americans seem to have a
general understanding of their water supply. As people are becoming more aware
of their water quality and their sources, they become concerned with
health-related issues and want to protect themselves. That makes a part of your
demonstration already partially completed before you walk in the door.
Thirty-three percent of those polled said they treat, filter, purchase bottled water,
etc., because of health-related concerns. Another approximately 28 percent
cited taste as their reason.

Demographically speaking, people ages 30-40 as well as
those with higher education levels were more likely to purchase water filtering
and treatment devices and bottled water. The percentage of people purchasing
bottled water (74 percent) continues to rise, with approximately 20 percent
drinking it exclusively. Thirty-seven percent of those polled report using a
filtering or treatment device. Roughly 56 percent of Americans drink straight
from the tap. That leaves an awful lot of potential customers for dealers to
sell to. At least 56 percent of the population could use water treatment in
their homes--that doesn't even include the amount of business out there
for C&I applications.

Don't worry, I did not miss the point of the survey, which
was to gauge how the EPA is doing reaching the public and to evaluate America's
water habits. For that it is a stepping stone. Although I still believe there
is no place for haphazard statements, and I apologize if I take things

Best Wishes,

Wendi Hope King

Wendi Hope King is editor of Water Quality Products. She may be reached at

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