When I first got word that the two most prominent industry associations were going to combine forces, honestly, I was inspired. They were attempting something heroic — reaching beyond their own individual interests for the good of all.

More than just the practical benefit of representing the industry with a more powerful, unified voice, this was leadership. It was showing us how it's done. It was the high road in an industry that has taken many low ones.

It spoke to the professionals in this industry, people of character who do things they don't really have to do — just because they're the right things — and encouraged them. It said you're not just a fine example, this is who we are.

What a shame it all fell apart. Some people say it was a bridge too far. The obstacles were too many and too high.

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Indeed, the logistical challenges were steep. First of all, there was the matter of merging two different types of organizations, as APSP is a 501(c)(6), an association nonprofit, and NSPF is a 501(c)(3), a foundation nonprofit.

And with APSP’s headquarters in the D.C. area and NSPF’s in Colorado Springs, Colo., where would the new organization call home? And with two separate teams come staffing duplicities — who would keep their job, and how would that be determined?

Finally, how would these two organizations reconcile their programs and standards, which in some ways complement each other, and in other ways compete?

It was a venture only for the strong and bold.

All along, I was fascinated by the approach of publicly promising everyone they'd clear these immense obstacles, which put everyone's pride on the line. I actually thought that was a good idea because of the motivation it provided. When things got tough, I'm sure everyone at the table was thinking, "After all the vows and congratulations and eight months of building anticipation, we can't walk this back."

But in the end, it wasn't enough. And they did.

The good news? We're no worse off than we were before. The bad news? This was a very public failure of leadership at our associations.

My take: There will be other opportunities for this industry to shine.

Scott Webb is Executive Editor of AQUA Magazine.