Visit to World Health Organization Headquarters Sharpens Focus on Health and Plumbing
As I prepare this column, IAPMO staff is putting the finishing touches on what promises to be one of the best, most comprehensive Education and Business Conferences in our association’s long history. Co-locating for a second time with ASSE International and now adding the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) as a third co-locator, I am confident we are gathering the greatest knowledge base on water and sanitation systems of any event this year. By providing attendees the ability to participate in education and networking opportunities with all three membership groups and their assembled leadership, IAPMO, ASSE International and ARCSA invite you to expand your understanding of our industry and your familiarity with the people within it.
Don’t miss out. I’ll see you in San Antonio!
Updating you on one of the most exciting things to happen for IAPMO this year, Chief Administrative Officer Gaby Davis, IWSH Foundation Managing Director Seán Kearney, consultant Elmar Essar, and I visited the World Health Organization (WHO) international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in June, serving in IAPMO’s capacity as World Plumbing Council (WPC) technical liaison to the WHO, to meet with their WASH staff to discuss new and productive ways to expand the WPC’s relationship with the WHO.
The WPC maintains a special and unique relationship with the WHO as it holds the distinction of being the only organization in the WASH plumbing arena granted non-governmental organization (NGO) status by WHO, an opportunity granted following a rigorous vetting procedure and maintained by quarterly assessments. IAPMO is honored to serve as the WPC’s technical liaison to the WHO.
As part of the United Nations, the WHO is passionately committed to the Strategic Development Goals (SDG), which are also part of IAPMO’s Vision Statement and at the center of IWSH’s numerous humanitarian projects. During our meeting, the WPC and the WHO keyed in on three major areas for expanded partnership on our shared objectives:
Climate Action — Helping healthcare facilities in a metro area function at the highest effectiveness even when placed under duress by such climate events as monsoon rains, excessive heat, and drought, including training and educating the staff on how to maintain the efficacy of the facility’s plumbing system during these events.
Community Resiliency — Ensuring access to water and sanitation when communities are impacted by events such as war or the influx of refugees, or perhaps major climate events where access to resources is threatened or pushed to its limit.
Workforce Development and Capacity Building — Recruiting, educating, and equipping a workforce with the necessary tools — not only wrenches, but codes and standards — to serve developing nations by installing and maintaining effective water and sanitation systems.
Through this expansion of partnership between the WPC and the WHO, IAPMO is thrilled to play a supporting role in a collaboration that began in earnest with our role in facilitating the publishing of “Health Aspects of Plumbing” in 2006 — a publication we continue to support today. Innovation continues to impact the plumbing industry, bringing greater efficiency but simultaneously introducing new vulnerabilities to such pathogens as Legionella, lead and others. Climate change similarly creates new challenges to plumbing systems as they relate to human health. IAPMO will again assist the World Plumbing Council by helping to facilitate the development of the next edition of this vital publication.
I look forward to updating you on specific WPC projects we will be announcing in the coming months as a result of this meeting. Stay tuned!
Turning the focus back to The IAPMO Group, I’m excited to share the news that our new lab in Mexico is open for business. This is a huge opportunity for manufacturers in Mexico and Central and South America to have their products tested and certified for the North American market. I invite you to read more about it HERE.
That’s not the only big news to come out of IAPMO R&T Lab. Moving into newly available space at IAPMO’s World Headquarters East building, the lab has expanded its capacity and capabilities to better service the plumbing, water quality, and water treatment industries.
While these new capabilities will no doubt provide a huge lift to our clients, there is one aspect of the expansion that is bittersweet. We closed an iconic, wonderful benefit for our employees, the P.J. Higgins Child Development Center, a licensed and fully staffed daycare center that enabled IAPMO’s California-based employees to receive top-notch childcare at discounted rates within a few steps of their workspaces. Some former students have even grown into IAPMO employees as adults!
The COVID pandemic and the work-life balance changes it ushered in made the daycare center obsolete, but subsequently opened the door for a relationship with a national childcare provider that has enabled IAPMO to extend affordable childcare benefits to our employees nationwide, no longer only those working in Southern California. So, in the end it’s a win-win for everybody, though we will miss the children’s art projects that would adorn the walls of our lunchrooms and the visits from Santa Claus every holiday season.
One more exciting bit of news I’m pleased to break here is that IAPMO is resuming publication of a Spanish version of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC). Phased out of production around 20 years ago, the renewed need for a Spanish version has become increasingly evident recently, both from an educational and on-the-job standpoint. We are in the process of translating the 2021 editions of these codes and hope to make them available for purchase at the IAPMO online store.
I wish you the best as we head into the final quarter of the year and will share with you in my next column the highlights of my CEO report I’ll be delivering at conference. Until then, be well.