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Membership in industry associations is a valuable tool, but involvement in regional associations can be even more beneficial in terms of personal networking and region-specific education and support.
Rebecca Wilhelm, associate editor of Water Quality Products, recently spoke with Jane H. Cain, executive director of the Eastern Water Quality Association (EWQA), about the challenges this regional association faces and how it plans to succeed in the future.
Rebecca Wilhelm: What states are included in the EWQA’s territory?
Jane H. Cain: There are 10 states included: North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Pennsylvania. We go from Maine to North Carolina.
Wilhelm: Please provide information on the upcoming EWQA Fall Conference & Tradeshow.
Cain: This is an annual event. It is taking place Nov. 12 to 14, in Lancaster, Pa., at the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center. Basically, we combine an industry tradeshow with classes and training. We also have the WQA national exams and we also offer WQA Seat Time, which means some of our classes are certified for their continuing education program.
On Wednesday morning we start off with a golf tournament. In the afternoon we are having what we call our “super sessions.”
Session one is a presentation from manufacturers of valves, and it is going to be hands-on in terms of looking at the control valves used for residential water treatment. There will be presentations by four manufacturers.
Session two is also a hands-on session on sizing of chemical feed pumps, care and treatment of water treatment equipment and calculation of various estimates of disinfection. It is going to be aimed at water disinfection techniques and installation services and repairs.
We will be doing some workshops that are business-oriented and have to do with sales and business management. One will be on financing in a tight economy and one will be on generating leads. We have some other technical workshops.
On Friday, a member of the Pacific Water Quality Association will be talking about the potential water softener ban in California, in a speech titled “Softener Ban: It Can Happen Here.”
The educational sessions are an excellent mix of business and technology, with real eye-opening discussions about some of the issues in the industry.
Wilhelm: What new initiatives or goals are on the forefront for the EWQA?
Cain: We are working on a position paper on the issue of water treatment and onsite wastewater systems, and we initiated a task force that includes the Virginia Water Well Association, the Virginia Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association and EWQA. We have three representatives of each association and we are talking about issues related to onsite water treatment, water wells and waste disposal systems from a practitioner’s point of view.
Wilhelm: What current topics are of particular interest to EWQA members?
Cain: Right now there are two areas of interest nationally. One is the issue of water softeners and water treatment and how that relates to other onsite water systems. The other is licensing and certification because in the East, particularly, there are not a lot of states that have any standards for that. As EWQA, our concern is that we find ways to communicate how those programs are set up and what the content of those programs is.
And the economy—that’s an issue that sort of overrides everything else.
Wilhelm: How will EWQA continue to grow in membership in the future?
Cain: We are holding our own—we have not seen a significant drop in membership. We think that there are some issues that should help us in terms of our growth.
The downside right now is that people are looking at how they are spending their money very closely. Unfortunately, people sometimes think association membership is not important.
But given the fact that the EWQA is beginning to put a major focus on political, legislative and regulatory issues, that is certainly a reason for people who are in the industry to look to association membership, so they can be a part of that.
Wilhelm: How does EWQA serve its members and the industry?
Cain: Our strength in the past has always been education; but we are certainly beginning to expend more time, energy and funds on getting our people together legislatively on regulatory issues because there is just so much of that coming down the pipe.
We still put a strong emphasis on education, but I think in the immediate future and probably even long-term, given what is going on with all kinds of issues that are related to regulations and legislation, we are probably going to be investing more in that area, both in terms of trying to give our members tools to use with their own local governments and state governments, but also in terms of getting our people involved and active in their states. We want our members to be proactive instead of reactive when these kinds of things come “down the pipe.”
For more information, contact Jane H. Cain at 540.740.3329 or by e-mail at [email protected].