The FWQA board of directors visits the state capitol in Tallahassee to meet with legislators.
State and regional associations across the U.S. play a key role in advocating for water treatment industry interests at the state and local levels. In the past year, these organization have seen success on several fronts, from updates to licensing requirements in Wisconsin to softener and septic system concerns in Delaware. Here, associations from across the U.S. provide updates on 2016 legislative efforts and goals for the coming year.
FWQA Vice President Kenny Gibson meets with Florida state Sen. Denise Grimsley.
Kenny Gibson, CWS President, Absolute Water Management Inc.
dba EcoWater Systems Board Member, Florida Water Quality Assn.
[email protected] | 941.493.2224
Connecting With Legislators
Every year, the Florida Water Quality Assn. (FWQA) board members visit the Florida state legislature. Our goals are to meet with elected state officials, and to introduce ourselves as an advanced resource for potential policy makers on all issues of water quality affecting their constituents. The board members endeavor to educate the legislators we meet about the role of FWQA and its ability to positively aid policymaking.
We hand out Water Quality Assn. (WQA) materials to help advise and educate officials on any issues that might be affecting Florida communities. We have found over the past few years that the senators and congressmen are open and receptive to meeting with us. We often talk about the difficulties and expense of fixing water infrastructure and how point-of-use systems can be utilized successfully as a final barrier to protect their constituents from water contaminants. We are diligent in collecting officials’ business cards and providing them our newsletter, “The Florida Flow.” We think this helps to keep those involved in the quality of Florida’s water abreast of the education and resources we have available to FWQA members.
FWQA board members Cindy Schieber and Todd Mosteller meet with Florida state Rep. Cord Byrd.
It is truly a wonderful experience to know that as representatives of FWQA, we are not only affecting positive change in Florida’s water quality, but also promoting the integrity and hard work of FWQA members. We are actively noticing the constructive influence of these meetings on the water quality industry, not just in the form of legislation, but also in the form of new business.
Throughout the year, FWQA monitors any potential legislation that will affect our industry. We currently are monitoring the Florida Department of Health’s concern with water softener discharge into septic systems. We are working with WQA to provide the Florida Department of Health with the latest study by Virginia Tech and the WQA brochure on softener and septic system performance.
As an association, we feel it is of utmost importance to be proactive with the Florida legislature rather than reactive. The board members will continue to keep our eyes open and our ears to the ground to make sure we protect our members and our industry.
Don Meredith presents Tanya Lubner the 2016 Friend of WQAW award.
The Capitol Group Lobbyist, Water Quality Assn. of Wisconsin
[email protected]; 608.244.8460
Certifying Products & Professionals
The Water Quality Assn. of Wisconsin (WQAW) recently achieved two significant regulatory changes on behalf of its members. The efforts undertaken by the association corrected long-standing issues and complaints by WQAW members—both dealers and manufacturers.
Changes to JPRA exam. Wisconsin required individuals installing and modifying water heaters, softeners and treatment devices to hold a journeyman plumber-restricted appliance (JPRA) license granted by passing a state-mandated exam. The licensing requirements have long been a burden on the industry due to the lack of training offered by the state and the high failure rate on the test.
Shortly after Gov. Scott Walker was elected in 2010, WQAW took advantage of his promise to ease Wisconsin’s regulatory environment by beginning the process to make changes to the licensing program.
WQAW worked with WQA and the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services (DSPS) to introduce a rule allowing for a third party to administer the JPRA test. After five years of numerous public hearings and dozens of meetings with legislators, agencies and unions, Wisconsin approved a third-party exam option for the JPRA test. However, WQAW’s work was not done--it worked with WQA to develop the test, which was finally approved in 2016.
WQAQ members and WQA staff attend a "cram session" in 2015.
WQAW also created a curriculum for a seven-week Installers Course webinar. In addition, learners are able to utilize the six badges in WQA’s Modular Education Program (MEP) to help prepare for the exam. The combination of the Installers Course webinar and the MEP badges, in addition to the industry-sponsored exam, provides potential JPRA licensees with comprehensive training that incorporates key job-specific skill requirements.
Plumbing product approval. Shortly after California made changes to its product approval process, WQA and WQAW set their sights on making similar changes in Wisconsin. Working again with DSPS, WQAW proposed a streamlined process that exempted “water treatment devices that make a contaminant reduction claim which is certified by a certification body accredited by the American National Standards Institute” from requiring Wisconsin-specific approval.
The changes were well received by the agency and the governor as a way to eliminate unnecessary duplication and streamline government, and were subsequently approved as an emergency rule effective Sept. 1, 2014. The final rule was passed by the Wisconsin state legislature and became effective in January 2015.
Executive Director, Eastern Water Quality Assn.
The Eastern Water Quality Assn. (EWQA) recently won a small battle in Delaware by helping its members who do business in that state. Members were able to get a waiver to be able to allow discharge from demand-initiated regeneration water softeners to enter standard anaerobic septic systems. While this is not the solution the association envisioned, it does allow members to work in the state of Delaware, and we will continue to work hard to try to affect change in regulations.
Additionally, there are several sites of PFOA/PFOS contamination located within the EWQA footprint, including the city of Hoosick Falls, N.Y.; the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, Pa.; the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, Pa.; Joint Base in Cape Cod, Mass.; the city of North Bennington, Vt.; Pease Airforce Base in Portsmouth, N.H.; Gloucester County, N.J.; Dover Airforce Base in Dover, Del.; and the Naval Auxilliary Landing Field Tentress in Chesapeake, Va. Our members have been diligent in working with various local officials and residents to educate them about the different treatment technologies that are proven to reduce or remove PFOA/PFOS chemicals. EWQA will support our members by giving them the tools and resources to reach local and state officials to help shape regulations surrounding these contaminants in drinking water. The EWQA will continue to help members with legislative issues as they arise.
Minnesota WQA Targets Licensing Legislation
The Minnesota Water Water Quality Assn. (MWQA) has again began the challenge of presenting legislation to allow water conditioning masters and journeymen to install equipment in small commercial settings when the installation is isolated by a plumber-installed valve. The legislation has been introduced in the Minnesota state Senate. The bill, S.F. No. 369, is sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators. State Sen. Karin Housley of Stillwater, Minn., is the chief author. She is joined by Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, commerce committee chair Sen. Gary Dahms, and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Sen. Dan Sparks, who previously chaired the jobs committee. This has been accomplished through the work of MWQA’s lobbyist, Mark Haase, and a number of visits to legislators by MWQA members. The House version of the bill will be introduced after MWQA secures more authors.
The association is optimistic about its ability to pass its legislation this year. The work it has done over the past several years to build support with legislators, the Department of Labor and Industry, and other trade groups is showing with the bill’s reception this year. One key to success has been MWQA’s ability to show the importance of the water industry to legislators throughout the state by connecting them with MWQA members in their districts. -Mike Herman, Minnesota Water Quality Assn.
Arizona WQA Focuses on Education
In Arizona, we do not expect any bills of interest in the upcoming legislative session. The Arizona Water Quality Assn. is wrapping up a two-year project with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to develop and implement a salinity awareness and education program. It has conducted professional training sessions and awarded certificates of achievement as water softener sustainability professionals to 79 members of the water treatment industry. The effort is detailed on a new website, www.wsspa.org. -David Perry, Arizona Water Quality Assn.