Thinking about joining the Water Quality Association? We became members ourselves a while ago and our dealers often ask us whether we think it's worth it. So, we decided to put together this blog post with the main points.
If you are a water treatment professional, you know companies can benefit a lot from organizations supporting and promoting their efforts.
Headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, the Water Quality Association currently supports over 2500 member companies, in addition to independent manufacturer representatives, consultants, and dealers. The WQA has a primarily American membership, but the association does have a global reach.
What is the WQA?
The Water Quality Association is a trade association that furthers research and provides resources to water quality improvement industry leaders, consumers, and communities.
This non profit organization was created from a merger prompted by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Prior to 1974, there were two entities to support dealers and manufacturers separately: Water Conditioning Association International and Water Conditioning Foundation.
Today there are many industries involved in the treatment and delivery of water, but the WQA primarily offers support to industry leaders who provide water treatment equipment to homeowners, rentals, and commercial properties. The Water Quality Association is also a leading voice in raising public awareness of the importance of water treatment through their nonprofit organization and website at BetterWaterToday.org.
According to a new study released in 2021, 61.4 million people in the US can't drink their tap water, choosing bottled options instead that drain other resources. The WQA is committed to improving water quality for residential, industrial, and commercial consumers by partnering with dedicated water treatment equipment providers.
What Does the WQA Do?
The primary objective of the WQA is to educate homeowners, property managers, business owners, and their communities on the importance and best practices for safe drinking water.
Millions of people don't have access to safe drinking water in their homes and the WQA wants to decrease that number. In that effort, they support dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers that serve residential, commercial, and industrial end-users. Some of their efforts include:
- Furthering and publishing the latest research through the Water Quality Research Foundation to provide evidence of the importance of water treatment and filtration systems on the home or business level. They also research to find, test, and promote new technologies and methods.
- Testing water treatment products and supplies for effectiveness and offering certification through the Gold Seal Product Certification program.
- Providing professional education and certifications.
- Connecting water treatment equipment providers with professionals that support them through the WQA Independent Partnership program.
- Perpetuating consumer and community education and linking consumers with water treatment pros through the consumer site, BetterWaterToday.org.
- Being a leading voice in lobbying water treatment improvements
Who are the Members of the Water Quality Association?
Before the 1974 merger, there were two trade associations supporting dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers of end-user water treatment equipment and supplies. Today the WQA offers memberships to these industries as well as consultants and retailers selling such equipment. International members who manufacture, supply, or sell water treatment equipment to end-users have access to fewer benefits than US or Canada-based companies.
The WQA also offers memberships to allies who have an interest in water quality but do not fit into the other categories. Those categories have different criteria and benefits completely separate from those discussed here.
Membership Categories and Levels
The Water Quality Association offers 7 membership categories with five benefit levels. Membership levels dictate the benefits of WQA membership, with only 3 of those levels applying to dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers. Each member category represents one of the groups that the WQA is dedicated to supporting and are listed below.
- Dealers: Any water treatment professional or entity that sells, markets, or services water treatment equipment and supplies to end-users qualifies as a dealer member. This includes plumbers, well drillers, consultants, general contractors, and other service providers that market and sell water treatment equipment and supplies as a part of their service. Dealers in the US or Canada can choose from the three primary membership levels. International dealers are not accepted.
- Manufacturers/Suppliers/Retailers: Any water treatment pro or entity that manufactures, supplies, assembles, or distributes water treatment equipment to end-users such as property owners and property managers in the residential, industrial, or commercial sectors fall under this category. This includes retailers from big-box and online stores to local mom-and-pops that sell water treatment equipment and supplies to local homeowners and businesses.
- International Manufacturers/Suppliers/Retailers: Companies outside the US or Canada that manufacture, supply, assemble, or distribute water treatment equipment to end-users within or without North America can apply for membership, but only have access to the base E member level.
- Manufacturer Representatives: Representatives working for manufacturers, suppliers, retailers or other companies in the US and Canada that sell, market, or service water treatment equipment can have an individual membership under this category. It allows you to get access to knowledge and resources that help you perform your job better and increase your value to the industry.
- Consultants: Any individual or entity with special expertise and marketing pros that support dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers with technical and business consults can have this membership with more limited resources.
What are the Benefits of WQA Membership?
The three primary membership levels are the E, Core, and Premier memberships. Each of these has a different price depending on the membership category. Consultants, manufacturer representatives, and international members only have access to the base E level.
All US dealers, global manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers of end-user water treatment equipment, and technical consultants to water treatment equipment companies enjoy these benefits:
- A listing in the appropriate providers' section of the WQA website
- The ability to display the WQA logo on their own website
- Access to a vast knowledge base of resources relating to your membership category
- Discounts on Water Quality Association conventions
- Discounts on professional training and certification programs
- Access to weekly podcasts and industry news
- Discounts on posting job openings
- Volunteering opportunities for exposure
In addition, all E level members are eligible to apply for Business Excellence, but not all will be approved. Water treatment companies in the US or Canada that fall in the dealers, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailer categories also have core membership premier membership options.
Core member benefits
Core members gain access to additional resources that help member companies educate their teams and customers, as well as opportunities to improve technology and business operations. Core members also gain access to:
- The International Resource Center with everything you need to stay on top of industry news, the latest tech, and recent research studies.
- The Regulatory Database where you can find all regulations related to your water treatment-related activities.
- One-on-one consultations and assistance with government regulations and affairs, including audits.
- Rich benchmarking data and consumer survey details that can be utilized in leading the charge for better water and marketing your business.
- The Tank & Valve report, an annual WQA business operations report that gives insights into the evolving industry.
- Human resource tools that help you train, educate, and manage your staff, installers, dealers, and representatives.
- Discounted exhibit and sponsorship opportunities to expand your presence in the water treatment industry.
Member companies of this level also receive a higher level of technical support, both with the tools and databases that you get with core membership and with webinars and other features.
Premier membership benefits
In addition to the E and Core memberships, premier members have additional access to:
- The raw data from consumer research rather than a summary
- One-on-one consultations with WQA board members
- News alerts on hot issues
- Exclusive premier networking events where you can discuss the latest ideas in improving water treatment equipment and supplies
- VIP convention registration area and signage showing support
- Free webinar opportunities to learn and grow your business
In addition, premier members are the first to be contacted in the industry’s preparedness and crisis management efforts.
Should you Join the Water Quality Association?
If you manufacture, sell, install, service, or install water treatment equipment and supplies to homeowners, business owners, and other property owners, joining the WQA has a lot of perks. In addition to the benefits above, members of the Water Quality Association have more networking opportunities, better access to education and operations resources, and other opportunities to grow your business exponentially.
Being a member of the WQA also boosts your reputation. Being accepted as a member of a trade association is a great way to set yourself apart from your competition. You’ll also be able to locate professionals and companies that support your own efforts to improve water quality, such as opportunities to offer financing to your customers.
How to Become a Member of the Water Quality Association
Becoming a member of the WQA is not a hard process. They have a PDF application available on their site with instructions for returning it to the WQA for processing.
Once your application and payment have been approved, you’ll get immediate listing on the WQA site and other online benefits, with a welcome kit containing other accessible features, tools, and databases arriving a few days later.