Kathleen Burbidge is external affairs associate director for the Water Quality Association. Burbidge can be reached at [email protected].
May 24, 2018

Water Quality Champions

Initiatives combat emerging contaminants & counterfeit products

Water Quality Assn. addresses emerging contaminants

This spring, members of the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) visited Washington, D.C., to get involved in federal advocacy and shape public policy. WQA partnered with the National Ground Water Assn. and the Irrigation Assn. to host the second annual Water Resources Congressional Summit at the capitol. During the summit, participants heard from representatives of the U.S. EPA Division of Drinking Water, Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, National Association of Realtors and U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen also addressed the group to provide insights on priorities within congress.

As part of the event, WQA members, representing businesses from across the country, had the opportunity to meet with their elected officials and staff to discuss important industry issues and the specific issues their businesses are facing. Major topics discussed included referencing point-of-use and point-of-entry water technologies as solutions in future drinking water and infrastructure legislation, as well as continued public education on available technologies to treat contaminants such as lead, arsenic and nitrates.

WQA awards for water quality work

WQA representatives present the Champion Senator of the Year Award to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Pictured left to right: Chris Wilker, Richard Mest, Shaheen, Pauli Undesser, Don McGhee, DJ Shannahan.

2018 WQA Champion Awards

To thank advocates of the industry who continue to raise awareness on important issues relating to drinking water, WQA presented the WQA Champion Representative of the Year Award and the WQA Champion Senator of the Year Award for 2018.

Fitzpatrick received the WQA Champion Representative of the Year Award for his dedication to supporting drinking water legislation. In 2017, Fitzpatrick proposed two water-related amendments that were included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. One directs the U.S. Secretary of Defense to conduct a nationwide health study on the effects of exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at military installments. A second mandates a study on the progress the U.S. Department of Defense has made in developing firefighting foam that does not contain PFOS or PFOA. Both provisions were signed into law.

Shaheen received the WQA Champion Senator of the Year Award for her sponsorship of the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, a bipartisan bill that would establish a national strategy to coordinate the federal response to emerging contaminants and help states in responding to these toxins. In 2017, she also successfully championed legislation, along with Fitzpatrick in the U.S. House of Representatives, to secure the inclusion of language in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act directing the U.S. Secretary of Defense to conduct a nationwide health study on the effects of exposure to PFOS and PFOA.

Advocacy in the Community

The continuation of events such as the Water Resources Congressional Summit, which includes industry experts volunteering their time, strengthens the position of the industry to affect public policy for the betterment of water quality. Individuals can become politically active in their communities by establishing and developing a continuing personal relationship with their elected officials. This can begin with an invitation for legislators to join various community events, such as small social gatherings or award ceremonies with other industry colleagues. This creates an opportunity for constituents and water treatment experts to provide insights on state water treatment reform and other pertinent federal, state and local legislation.

Coalition to Combat Counterfeiting

At the federal level, this year, WQA founded the Coalition to Combat Counterfeiting to work on a coordinated effort with advocacy partners. The coalition is currently focused on convincing the House Oversight Committee to hold a hearing on the challenges and costs of counterfeiting to businesses and consumers, and the effectiveness of current enforcement efforts. The next step, after the hearing, is to have the committee request a Government Accountability Office study in order to develop additional data and recommendations to address the problem. 

About the author

Kathleen Fultz is regulatory and government affairs manager for the Water Quality Assn. Fultz can be reached at [email protected] or 630.505.0160.