Editor Greg Ettling wants you to make sure consumers in your market are fully aware of the vital role played by drilling contractors during National Drinking Water Week.

National Drinking Water Week is May 6-12, and the timing could not be better. The issue of safe drinking water has been getting a lot of attention in the mass media lately; consumer awareness of the situation is about as high as it possibly can go. This heightened recognition is only going to be cemented with the attention generated by the weeklong observance and its accompanying activities - designed to inform consumers about the importance of safe drinking water and to motivate them to take steps to protect their drinking water supply.

Those of you with big plans for the event probably have most of the details finalized. The seminars, demonstrations and open houses are scheduled; the promotional mailings are ready to go to the post office; and the advertisements have been produced. One of the better plans we heard about had a drilling contractor doing presentations at both his local grade school and community center. He'll have some slides, model rigs, and brochures with informative puzzles and games (and his "mud" cookies are sure to be a hit).

And if you have less ambitious (or no) plans in the works, it's not too late to boost your efforts. All this attention presents an opportunity too good to miss out on; take full advantage. It needn't be a huge production but you definitely should do something. If nothing else, it gives you something to start positive conversations with clients and prospects.

The 2001 National Consumer Water Quality Survey was recently released. Commissioned by the Water Quality Association, the survey analyzes respondents' perceptions about their household water supply. Some of the results:

  • Nearly nine in 10 Americans have concerns about their water
  • Two-thirds have aesthetic concerns (smell, taste, color, hardness)
  • More than half worry about possible health contaminants

Awareness is high, indeed - making folks more receptive to messages about their water. That's the good news.

But do not make the mistake of confusing public awareness with public knowledge. The aforementioned survey was careful enough to use the term "perceptions" - decidedly different than "knowledge." That leaves drilling contractors charged with the task of educating consumers about their water, a concept you should be rather familiar with by now. This serves as reinforcement that one of your most important tasks is to be a reliable source of good information to your clients and prospects - so stay at it, because it works.

Yes, there are going to be people who will be convinced that their children will grow flippers and an extra head from ingesting iron bacteria. Your less-than-scrupulous water industry colleagues have families to feed, too; leave the scare tactics to them. They'll be working on the fringe, however, because more consumers are doing their homework, and more of them are doing a better job of it. That means your message will be better understood.

So you have heightened awareness, making people more receptive to your message, and they are better informed, meaning they'll comprehend your message better. This leaves you in the position of having the opportunity to be the professional they can count on to meet their needs and desires.

While National Drinking Water Week will have come and gone by May 12, the issue should be a hot topic for some time. Forever? No. For how long? Who knows? But the window is open now; do all you can to place your firm in position to maximize the opportunity that's presented.

The theme for this year's celebration is "Water Works Wonders." Make sure consumers in your market are fully aware of the vital role played by drilling contractors.