In the dual role of Region 5 Director for the ABPA and the Vice President of the CBPA I can say that I have been very busy lately…, but as an industry professional in the great state of Colorado I can tell you that I have been REALLY, REALLY busy over the past several months. In fact, I thought about just writing,…All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy…. OK, I think you get the point especially if you know your Stephen King. We have all been incredibly busy. Most of you are aware that due to recent CDPH&E Regulation (and Policy and Guidance) changes we have all been running our tails off trying to keep up, testers and purveyors alike. It has been (and will continue to be) a lot of work but we should remember that as we continue to strengthen cross connection control in our distribution systems across the state, we will GREATLY lessen the potential impacts of backflow incidents. There is one concern I have regarding recent changes, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I had the privilege to speak at the ABPA National Conference in April in San Antonio, Texas. Gathered at this meeting were a wide variety of industry professionals from all over our country and even a few regulators from Canada and Australia. I sat on a panel with these and other regulators and spoke about regulatory challenges. I spoke as well to nearly a hundred professionals regarding the state of the recent regulation changes in Colorado and challenges we are facing here.
A month or so before the conference a large-scale backflow contamination incident was reported in the city of Corpus Christi, Texas. According to reports, an asphalt manufacturing company contaminated the city distribution lines with Indulin AA-86 and hydrochloric acid. Texas DEQ declined to comment at the time and we anxiously await more information. That incident was I believe the 4th or 5th water advisory that Corpus Christi has had within 2 years and not the only one attributed to backflow.
My point is that incidents happen and more happen than we get to hear about. Actual and potential threats from cross connections exist and will continue to cause incidents. My concern is that in our mad rush to keep up with the state changes both as testers and regulators, it is easy to lose sight of the bottom-line, which is that we MUST keep water quality as our number one priority. While we focus our minds and efforts on filling databases and meeting compliance ratios, we risk commoditizing the entire industry. Understanding and education can be marginalized as we chase the almighty dollar or avoid a violation. I have heard a number of worrisome things on the “ground level” and have noticed an overall lack of interest in confronting some of these problems. The article on drive-by testing in this issue (of the CBPA Newsletter. Article to be published here soon.) is only one example. I urge everyone in the industry in this state to become more involved in organizations such as this one and continue pushing for education and competency. Only by placing value on education will we continue to keep water quality as our number one priority and maintain the integrity of our industry.
By Jesse Bockhouse
ABPA Region 5 Director
CBPA Vice President