This has been a wild year. The day after Christmas last year, everyone learned what a tsunami is and the destruction it can cause. All of you came to the aid of those who suffered the devastation of the tsunami. You should be congratulated for your compassion and your contributions to those in need.

Shortly after the tsunami, the International Red Cross announced that more people would die this year from a lack of clean water and sanitation than died in the tsunami. The death toll from the tsunami exceeded 220,000 people. The Red Cross stated that more than 3 million people a year die from disease passed through dirty water and from poor sanitation. That is an exorbitant number of deaths.

The Red Cross went on to report that 1.1 billion people in the world lack safe water. Furthermore, 2.4 billion people have no access to sanitation. All of you consider this outrageous. You have spent your professional life making sure that none of those deaths from dirty water occur in your area, or your country. You have made sure that everyone has access to sanitation facilities in this country.

You have offered to share your knowledge with the rest of the world. You should be congratulated. If the rest of the world had the plumbing contractors we have in this country, 3 million lives a year could be saved. You have let the world theater know of your concerns. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the headline news like it should. But you keep trying to bring it to the forefront.

This summer, we all witnessed the power of a hurricane as Katrina, Rita and Wilma destroyed many of our coastal communities. After contributing to the tsunami funds, you thought nothing of again reaching into your pockets to help your fellow countrymen in their time of need. The response from the plumbing industry was tremendous. Hearing of all the stories of lending a helping hand brought tears to my eyes.

Many contractors that I know told me of closing their businesses for a week as they headed south to help rebuild. Not only were they contributing money, but labor and talent as well. For that, all of you should be congratulated.

There is still a tremendous amount of work required to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged areas of our country. It will take time, but we are a country that quickly rebounds. A few hurricanes cannot stop us. We know that we will win in the end.

Then a major earthquake struck in Pakistan. Again, you saw pain and suffering and offered to help financially. My congratulations for staying compassionate.

Joining Together

With all this pain and suffering, there is always a silver lining. As you reflect on this past year, you cannot ignore all of the death and destruction that Mother Nature can bring. But, I think you also have to look at one of the greatest accomplishments that happened, as well. The plumbing industry is finally on its way to having a single plumbing code that will serve this country. With the announcement of ICC and IAPMO consolidating the two major plumbing codes into one, we have won a major victory for the industry.

Since this announcement, everyone has asked me if it is really true, or are they just yanking our chain again. I can tell you that they are really serious about getting together, and it will proceed. This action was done at a high level. It wasn't the staffs of IAPMO and ICC talking to one another; it was the members of the board of directors of the two groups. They in turn have directed the staff to get it together.

They have three years to pull this off. The new International Plumbing Code and Uniform Plumbing Code will both be issued in 2006. The next documents were scheduled for 2009. That is when the common code is expected to be issued.

The process is already moving at a rapid rate. Neither group has wasted any time putting the process together. It is expected that there will be a method of having a joint committee working on combining the codes by the early part of next year.

I was asked by two board members to stay active and involved with the process of joining the plumbing codes. I assured them that I will be there and will lend whatever help I can. As we progress, I will keep you informed of the activities. I know many of you will also be involved. The rest of you will be cheering the process on, hoping that they get it right.

The nice thing about the process of combining the codes is that with the issuance of the 2006 codes, they are not that far apart. The IPC and UPC have been gradually getting closer and closer together in their code requirements. Of course, that only makes sense. Everyone is after the same goal Ñ protection of public health, safety and welfare. We all want safe drinking water and proper sanitation.

I am glad to see that two wonderful organizations will be working together rather than butting heads. It only makes sense to have the genius of two groups working as one. Imagine what we can do. Then we can bring our knowledge around the world more easily, helping 1.1 billion people get clean water.

This cooperative effort should be congratulated. All of you played a part by always asking, “Why are the codes different from one jurisdiction to the next?” Keep asking those questions. Never settle for mediocrity.

When you sit down to enjoy this holiday season, take pride in the work that you have done to make this world a better place. Say a prayer for those less fortunate, and accept my congratulations for an outstanding year. Keep up the good work.

Have a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a warm and prosperous New Year.