Association News - May 2013

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Water softener regenerate research

John Novak, keynote speaker at the Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association conference and lead researcher on the water softener regenerate study at Virginia Tech, shared the effects regenerate has on septic system effluent. Novak stated that regenerate is better for average residential onsite systems provided water softeners regenerate based on demand (how much water is used) rather than at certain times. Time-based systems can introduce too much salt, which can cause too much resuspension of solids that can clog drainfield piping.


Association helps tornado victims

Members of the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professional Association, state Department of Health and Purdue University installed new onsite systems for two victims of March 2012 tornados. Mike Haddon, Washington County Environmental Health Officer and IOWPA member, requested the association consider helping the women who lost their homes. Companies around the area provided the product, equipment and labor to make the day a success.

The IOWPA Certification Committee prepared an inspection and maintenance checklist for the state’s new Inspection and Maintenance Certification. The state rule varies from IOWPA’s Certified Installer Certification and the NAWT certification program.

Mallory Harnish received the association’s 2012/2013 Ralph Reed Memorial scholarship. She is the daughter of Greg and Lori Harnish, owners of G & L Plumbing in Wabash. Mallory is studying accounting and finance at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.


Educating planners

A column by Rob Palin in the fall newsletter of the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association stressed the importance of educating municipal planning and approvals staff about the benefits of onsite systems. When faced with frequent opposition from officials to onsite systems in large private developments, Palin seizes the opportunity to educate. He will explain how an onsite system works and why it is environmentally sustainable when properly designed, installed and maintained.

Palin recommends people in the industry comment on proposed rule changes and engage planning and approvals staff to demystify onsite processes. They should dispel myths surrounding groundwater and surface water contamination by detailing the advances in technology, understanding of soil mechanics and biomat interactions, and industry initiatives to better operate and manage the resource. The newsletter is a free download at

Contributions of the association’s Government Relations Committee included representing the membership in stakeholder meetings with the director and staff at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) while it developed the new Ontario Building Code (regulates onsite). The agency also invited the association to contribute to a special Project Advisory Committee supporting a technical review on field testing Class 4 onsite systems.


Promoting growth in decentralized systems

The National Onsite Water Recycling Association is working to expand the decentralized systems market. One avenue is the joint NOWRA-Water Environment Federation workshop on onsite systems greater than 10,000 gpd at WEFTEC 2013 on Oct. 5-9 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill.

Another avenue was participating in a state revolving fund workshop hosted by the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities. Robert Rubin, Ph.D., professor emeritus at North Carolina State University and consultant for McKim and Creed Inc., and Robert Rebori, president of Bio-Microbics, gave presentations encouraging the council to make it easier for decentralized systems to receive monies from clean water or drinking water funds.

A third avenue is collaborating with the U.S. Water Alliance on a management and resource recovery research project with a decentralized component.

NOWRA executive director Eric Casey participated in a webinar to discuss the four two-page papers released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Decentralized Memorandum of Understanding Partnership. The papers highlight how onsite systems can be sustainable and appropriate options for communities and homeowners.

“NOWRA and other groups are using the papers as a foundation document that undergirds many of our other activities,” says Casey. “The EPA has said previously that decentralized systems are good, safe products, but these papers reinforce the statement and lend much more credibility because of their specificity.”

The papers were developed for infrastructure decision makers such as engineers, developers, supervisory boards, county managers, and local and state officials. Download them for free at
NOWRA’s Technical Committee also submitted comments to the EPA on its extensive document titled “A Model Program for Onsite Management in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” “We’re generally supportive of the program and what it recommends,” says Casey. “Our expectation is that it will become a template for management of onsite systems in other watersheds.”

One recommendation in the document would make product and technology approval processes regional instead of by individual state. The agency is particularly interested in reducing the arduous procedure for denitrification technology and other technologies with the potential to significantly reduce pollution loads in the bay. If the model were to take hold, the regional entity would be driven by the watershed, not the geographic area.

“The fact that the EPA is taking a leading role in exploring a better way to approve new onsite products is really big,” says Casey. “The benefit to manufacturers would be huge. It would lower the cost of doing business and remove the main impediment to research and development. The hurdle for regulatory approval is so high that it reduces the incentive to develop innovative technology.”

While the task is difficult, Casey believes there is a precedence of cooperation in other states for complicated sets of laws that may provide a template for the onsite industry to rationalize its laws. “We’re probably years away from anything actually happening, but these are positive first steps,” he says.


June 7-8

Georgia Onsite Wastewater Association Conference, Sea Palms Resort, St. Simons. Call Bruce Widener at 678/646-0369 or visit



Licensing classes are the joint effort of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association and University of West Alabama. Courses are at UWA Livingston campus unless stated otherwise:

  • June 20-21 – Continuing Education, Dothan
  • July 10-12 – Advanced Installer I
  • July 24-26 – Advanced Installer II

The first day of Continuing Education classes is for installers and the second day is for pumpers and portable restroom operators. Call the training center at 205/652-3803 or visit


The University of Arizona Onsite Wastewater Education Program has these classes:

  • May 13 – ATUs and Media Filters, Tucson
  • May 14 – Subsurface Drip Disposal, Tucson

Contact Kitt Farrell-Poe at 520/621-7221,, or


The Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association has a Design, Installation, Operation, Maintenance, and Remediation of At-Grade, Enviro Guard, and Sabre Septic Systems course on May 15 at Manchester. Contact Alice Vinsand at 515/225-1051,, or visit


The University of Minnesota Onsite Sewage Treatment Program has these classes:

  • June 11-12 – Inspecting Onsite Systems, St. Cloud
  • June 14 – Soils Continuing Education, Fergus Falls
  • June 18 – Soils Continuing Education, Mankato
  • June 20 – Soils Continuing Education, Farmington
  • July 9-11 – Soils, Brainerd

Call Nick Haig at 800/322-8642 or visit

New England

The New England Onsite Wastewater Training Center at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston has these courses:

  • May 9 – Sand Media
  • May 16 – Installing Advanced Onsite Treatment Systems
  • May 16 – Innovative and Alternative Technology Field Training
  • May 23 – Hands-On Component Installation
  • June 6 – Bottomless Sand Filter Design and Installation
  • June 10 – Introductory Soil Morphology and Evaluation for Siting Onsite Systems
  • June 14 – Advanced Soil Morphology
  • June 26 – Soil Evaluation and Morphology
  • June 27 – Surveying Basics for the Onsite Wastewater Contractor
  • July 11 – Microbiology for Wastewater Professionals
  • July 18 – Surveying Techniques for the Wastewater Professional

Call 401/874-5950 or visit For soil courses, call Mark Stolt at 401/874-2915 or email

North Carolina

North Carolina State University has a Soils of the Upper Mountains in the Southeast U.S. Course June 5 in Laurel Springs. Contact Joni Tanner at 919/513-1678;

The North Carolina Pumper Group and Portable Toilet Group have an educational seminar on septage management and land application June 22 in New Bern. Call Joe McClees at 252/249-1097 or visit or


The Virginia Center for Onsite Wastewater Training has a Foundational Concepts of Pump Systems class May 10 at Pickett Park. Contact Latonya Fowlkes at 434/292-3101 or or visit

Washington State

The Washington On-Site Sewage Association and Washington State Department of Health in cooperation with Washington State University offer these certification courses at the Puyallup training center unless stated otherwise:

  • May 1-2 – Certification for Proprietary Devices
  • May 15 – Electrical Control Panels
  • May 22 – Design/Install and O&M of Subsurface Drip, Bremerton

Call WOSSA at 253/770-6594 or visit


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