WWEMA: A Member-Driven Organization

April 1, 2002
The success of any non-profit association is determined in large part by the willingness and commitment of its member volunteers to take part in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

The success of any non-profit association is determined in large part by the willingness and commitment of its member volunteers to take part in the day-to-day operations of the organization. The Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association can attribute its century-long history of service to the water and wastewater industry to the exemplary efforts of its members who take an active role in the association's committees and councils.

While WWEMA is governed by an 18-member Board of Directors, it is the responsibility of its eight committees and six councils to determine what issues are of paramount importance to the membership - and the industry at large - that need to be acted upon in compliance with WWEMA's mission.

WWEMA's mission is straightforward: To benefit members by informing, educating and providing leadership on the issues that shape the future of the water and wastewater industry. To carry out its mission, WWEMA has identified five strategic objectives that will guide its committee and council work in 2002. They are to:

  • Champion value-based procurement practices.
  • Create demand for member products and services.
  • Provide market intelligence for competitive gain.
  • Promote professional development of member personnel.
  • Be the respected voice of the water and wastewater equipment manufacturers.

These strategic objectives are reflected in WWEMA's 2002 Committee/ Council Work Plan. Highlights from this year's Work Plan represent a microcosm of the issues that challenge the industry today and occupy the attention of water and wastewater equipment manufacturers as a community.

Water Security

Securing the nation's water supplies from acts of terrorism has taken center stage for the water utility industry. WWEMA is hosting two events in April that have water security as a primary topic of discussion. WWEMA members are re-evaluating their product offerings to determine how best to support their utility customers to achieve maximum security in a cost-effective manner. WWEMA's regulatory committees are forming positions on how federal resources could be directed to help utilities purchase high-priority security systems, develop contaminant detection technologies, and research the cause-and-effect relationships between the presence of threat agents and changes in drinking water chemistry and hydrology.

Infrastructure Financing

Debate on Capitol Hill is heating up this year on how to remedy the nation's decaying water and wastewater infrastructure. With estimates in the hundreds of billions, Congress is attempting to determine what role the federal government should play in restoring the physical integrity of this critical infrastructure. WWEMA, through its involvement in the H2O Coalition, has been a vocal proponent for striking a reasonable balance between federal responsibility and sound fiscal policy.

WWEMA's regulatory committees have been championing the call for preserving and adequately capitalizing the state revolving fund (SRF) programs; encouraging self-sustainability on the part of utilities through rational rate structures and sound asset management practices; assisting disadvantaged consumers through rate subsidies; and encouraging use of value-based procurement methods as a means to obtain the best products at the lowest total cost of ownership to the end user.

The U.S. Senate is currently considering legislation that would fund the SRF programs at $35 billion over the next five years. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in the immediate future.

Regulatory Rulemaking

Beyond water security matters, WWEMA's Drinking Water Regulatory Committee will be actively engaged this year in commenting on regulations governing microbials and disinfection by-products. WWEMA served for two years on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency federal advisory committee responsible for guiding the agency in developing these regulations, due to be released in proposed form in late summer or early fall. This Committee will also undertake a review of product verification programs funded by the agency to determine their effectiveness in advancing product innovations for water and wastewater applications.

In addition to water infrastructure financing legislation, WWEMA's Wastewater Regulatory Committee is monitoring and will be commenting this year on regulations governing animal feeding operations, combined and sanitary sewer overflows, total maximum daily loads, and industrial effluent guidelines.

Global Competitiveness

With the U.S. garnering less than five percent share of the global environmental technology market, the members of WWEMA's Global Competitiveness Committee have their work cut out for them. The Committee's focus this year will be to introduce WWEMA and its members' product offerings to engineering and construction industry interests, worldwide, in an effort to foster strategic alliances. Through its member involvement on the Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee, WWEMA will continue to advise 19 federal departments and agencies on U.S. trade policy and promotion programs to enhance its members' competitiveness in its export markets.

Value-Based Procurement

WWEMA published a document, in partnership with the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, titled "Optimizing Public Agency Purchasing Power." This year, through the efforts of its Manufacturers Representatives Committee, WWEMA will promote use of this document by municipalities and consulting engineers as a way to obtain quality equipment at the lowest total cost of ownership through value-based procurement practices. This Committee will also investigate and challenge any federal or state policy which encumbers the ability of public officials from choosing the best procurement strategy for their needs.

Professional Development

The water and wastewater industry is unique, as are the skills of the professionals who serve it. WWEMA offers an extensive and valuable executive development program for its member companies through its Council structure. These Councils provide a unique forum for networking, benchmarking, and professional development. Members with similar job responsibilities meet, share information, discuss problems unique to their positions, and seek solutions to the challenges they confront on a day-to-day basis.

WWEMA's Financial and Contract Administration Council will host its third annual event in April with a two-day program titled "Facing Today's Challenges in an Uncertain World." Topics include national water security, managing international transactions, negotiating contracts and collection strategies. WWEMA is in the process of launching councils for chief executive officers, human resource directors, quality assurance personnel, sales managers, and marketing / communication specialists.

Market Intelligence

To succeed in today's competitive business environment, companies need intelligence about where their industry and key markets are headed. WWEMA conducts two annual events which offer members an opportunity to obtain this critical insight and interact with a cross section of participants in the industry. WWEMA will be hosting its 29th Washington Forum in April to explore domestic policies and international trade initiatives impacting the market for water and wastewater products and services (see related article). WWEMA's 93rd Annual Meeting in November offers members an opportunity to network with their peers and share insights into today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities for water and wastewater equipment manufacturers.

This is but a sampling of the issues and scope of activities that WWEMA is engaged in on behalf of its member firms. The Association has stood the test of time through 93 years of changes in the industry. As it enters its second century of service, WWEMA will continue to articulate the views of its members and help steer the industry through the seas of change.

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