It has been more than one year since news of the Flint, Mich., lead contamination crisis first broke, and the crisis still looms large over the water treatment industry.
It will be years before the consequences of the contamination are fully realized—not least for the children who were affected by high blood lead levels. The crisis is already affecting change when it comes to legislation and regulations, all the way up to the federal level.
In 2016, several states passed new laws regarding public notification of contamination issues by drinking water providers. At the federal level, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act was passed. This legislation not only included provisions for public notification, but also incorporated two key pieces of legislation, the Water Resources Development Act and the Water Supply Code Savings Act.
The focus on water infrastructure continues into 2017. In January, Senate Democrats introduced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would cover water systems, transportation, school and energy projects. According to reports, the Democrats hoped to find common ground with their Republication counterparts in the Senate and President Donald Trump, who also has made it a goal to revamp America’s infrastructure.
There’s a lot at stake when it comes to water-related regulations and legislation, which have the potential to affect the industry from the largest water utility to the smallest water dealership—and that’s why it’s more important than ever to get involved.
One of the best ways to do that is to join associations. Over the past several years, the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) has made it a priority to develop relationships with lawmakers, including trips to Washington, D.C., each year to meet with representatives. WQA recently formed a Political Action Committee “to increase the association’s participation in the political process and foster relationships with legislators to ensure our needs are heard,” according to WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser. She also mentioned WQA’s two government affairs committees, which are made up of association member volunteers. More information about WQA’s 2017 strategy can be found on page 86.
Many state and regional associations also put a focus on legislation affecting their members at the state and local levels. The Pacific Water Quality Assn., for example, holds its Legislative Days each spring to meet with California legislators.
You can get involved as an individual as well, by introducing yourself to your representatives and offering yourself as a resource. That one small step could make a big difference later.
For more tips on getting involved from WQA, read “Proactive Approach” on page 12.