Association News - September 2013

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Association wages battle over disposal

A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling against Gmoser’s Septic Service, Whitney Blakeslee and the Michigan Septic Tank Association set a precedent for septage disposal. The plaintiffs argued that local ordinances first banned land application, then mandated that septage pumped within the local unit of government be disposed of at the municipal facility, thus creating a monopoly free to charge an arbitrary price for the service.

The Court of Appeals ruled local governments are within their rights with the requirements. A lack of preemption in MCL 324.11715(1) allows local governments to make stricter requirements than the law states, such as restricting haulers to dispose of septage originating within their boundaries at only their facility. Consequently, more townships and counties are taking steps to enact similar provisions.

MSTA president Joe Hall, writing in the association’s summer issue of Professional Pumper, reports the effect increased disposal rates have had on pumpers and their customers. Leoni Township wastewater treatment plant reported receiving 3.7 million gallons of septage (14 septic tanks per day) in 2007. The plant reported 2.3 million gallons (nine septic tanks per day) in 2011, after increasing the disposal fee to $210 for dumping 1,000 gallons of septage. In comparison, the current rate to dispose of 1,000 gallons of septage is $10 at the Munising plant, $15 at the Ludington plant, and $25 at the Alpena plant.

MSTA legislative consultant Judy Augenstein and State Rep. Ken Goike (R-Ray Township) are drafting legislation that would allow haulers to go to the facility of their choice. The bill also would remove the 2025 ban on septage storage facilities.


Septage survey ongoing

The Georgia Onsite Wastewater Association has asked everyone in the state’s pumping industry to complete an online survey to help determine the extent of the septage disposal problem. Officials will use the results to persuade legislators to mandate more disposal options. Go to


Mandatory effluent filters

As of May, Nova Scotia required effluent filters on all new residential septic tanks. The Waste Water Nova Scotia Society commissioned lawyer Ian MacLean to suggest ways onsite professionals could limit their liability. Besides recommending they do quality work and educate the homeowner, MacLean drafted a form for homeowners to sign, verifying that they understood they have an effluent filter and the importance of regular maintenance. A copy of the form is in the May 2013 newsletter at (scroll down). The form may be modified.

The association also created three educational onsite videos and plans to add more to its online library. Currently available are Selecting and Constructing a Raised Drainfield, Construction of a Pressurized Drainfield, and Flushing an Onsite Sewage Disposal System.


NOWRA Nuggets

The field trip associated with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association’s annual conference Nov. 17-20 in Nashville will cover a large cluster facility in the planning stage, another in the construction stage and a third in the operational stage. The conference will also have a three-hour session to explore establishing an industry standard for advanced onsite system design.

NOWRA is participating in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project to identify tools to help designers, engineers and community leaders decide whether large decentralized systems are better alternatives than municipal sewers. “Making it easier for communities faced with that crucial decision to find useful information on decentralized systems has been one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” says Eric Casey, NOWRA executive director. “The EPA’s efforts will help put decentralized systems more on a par with centralized options.”

Casey believes many tools that ought to be part of EPA’s toolbox are already available or in development. Examples include the decentralized wastewater cost estimation tool developed by John Buchanan, an effort spearheaded by the University of Minnesota to create a Community Septic System Owner’s Guide, and other projects from the Decentralized Wastewater Resources Collaborative. “One benefit of the effort may be to identify gaps where additional tools and resources should be developed,” says Casey.

NOWRA also is active in the U.S. Water Alliance, established to advance the nation toward watershed-based approaches to water quality and quantity challenges. Alliance executive director Ben Grumbles invited NOWRA to participate, as he felt decentralized wastewater treatment was a big part of the answer.

“The alliance is an excellent platform from which to implement one-water management, and move away from managing stormwater, drinking water and wastewater as separate entities,” says Casey. “One-water management is about diversifying our industry, creating jobs and changing people’s attitudes to accept large decentralized systems as viable alternatives to sewers. NOWRA wants those systems to become a stronger leg of the stool supporting the industry.”

To that end, NOWRA and the Water Environment Federation are cosponsoring a seminar on Oct. 6 in Chicago at WEFTEC 2013 that will make the case to engineers and utility managers that large decentralized systems can be profitably built and maintained at lower cost than conventional sewers.

NOWRA is renewing its efforts to secure more money from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for individual, commercial and community-based onsite systems. Board member Bob Himschoot will chair the association’s Government Affairs Committee and spearhead the effort to lobby Congress. “If we can persuade Washington to change the rules, it will make a tremendous difference for our industry,” says Casey. “Our goal is always to improve conditions, support our members and sustain them in the future by providing more options.”


Oct. 6-8
Virginia Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association Annual Conference, Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, Roanoke. 540/465-9623;

Oct. 8-10
Onsite Water Protection Conference, Jane S. McKimmon Conference & Training Center, Raleigh, N.C. Contact Joni Tanner at 919/513-1678;, 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:

  • Oct. 2-4 – Advanced Installer I
  • Oct. 24-25 – Continuing Education, Mobile
  • Nov. 6-8 – 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 a Soil and Site Evaluation for Onsite Wastewater Systems course Oct. 28-29 in Camp Verde. Contact Kitt Farrell-Poe at 520/621-7221,, or


The California Onsite Wastewater Association is offering these classes:

  • Oct. 2-3 – NAWT Operation and Maintenance Level 1, Napa
  • Oct. 17 – System Controls, Sonora
  • Nov. 12-13 – Integrated Water Technologies, Sacramento

Call Kit Rosefield at 530/513-6658 or visit


The Delaware Technical Community College-Owens Campus has these courses:

  • Online: Pumps, Motors and Controls – enrollment 9/15 to 12/13
  • Sept. 18 – Lagoon Treatment & Spray Irrigation of Treated Wastewater: An Operator’s Guide
  • Sept. 21 – Basic Surveying Principles
  • Sept. 27 – Onsite Disposal System Hydraulics
  • Oct. 3, 10, 17 – OSHA (1926) Construction Safety Course
  • Oct. 22 - Dec. 3 (7 sessions) – Onsite License Preparation Course
  • Oct. 1 – Basic Principles of Onsite Pumping Systems
  • Oct. 2-3 – Operation and Maintenance of Onsite Septic Systems for Service Providers Workshop
  • Oct. 7 – Confined Space Entry
  • Oct. 9 – Excavation Safety
  • Oct. 21 – Pumps: Motors and Controls
  • Oct. 23 – Inspection of Onsite Wastewater Systems
  • Oct. 28 – Membrane Technology & Application for Selective Pollutant Removal
  • Oct. 30 – Designing Drip Irrigation Onsite Systems
  • Nov. 7 – Innovative and Alternative Onsite Systems
  • Nov. 7 – DOT Regulations Review for Pumpers
  • Nov. 8 – Pumps: Installation, Maintenance and Repair
  • Nov. 13 – Risers, Baffles and Filters: Installation and Repair
  • Nov. 13 – Vacuum Truck Basics
  • Nov. 13 – Operation and Maintenance of Innovative and Alternative Systems
  • Nov. 14 – Aggregate-Free Alternatives for Onsite Disposal Systems
  • Nov. 15 – Pump Hydraulics
  • Nov. 20 – Alternative Treatment and Disposal Options for Wastewater Facilities
  • Nov. 22 – Onsite Control Systems
  • Nov. 22 – Submersible Pumps
  • Nov. 26 – Soils-Based Approach to Siting Wastewater Disposal
  • Nov. 27 – Replacement of Onsite Systems

Call Hilary Valentine at 302/259-6384.


The Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association has these courses:

  • Oct. 9 – Basic System Design and Installation, Charles City
  • Nov. 22-23 – Installation Overview with CIOWTS Test, Knoxville

Contact Alice Vinsand at 515/225-1051,, or visit


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

  • Oct. 3 – Soils Continuing Education, Brainerd
  • Oct. 22-25 – Intermediate Onsite System Design and Inspection, Brainerd
  • Nov. 20-21 – General Continuing Education, St. Cloud

Call Nick Haig at 800/322-8642 (612/625-9797) or visit


The Missouri Smallflows Organization has these CEU courses:

  • Oct. 9-10 – High Strength Waste, Maryland Heights
  • Oct. 30 – Earthen Structures, Camdenton
  • Oct. 31 – Hydraulics, Camdenton
  • Nov. 5-6 – Operations & Maintenance, Liberty
  • Nov. 19-20 – Operations & Maintenance, Springfield

Call Tammy Trantham at 417/739-4100 or visit

New England

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

  • Oct. 1 – Technology Vendor Field Demo
  • Oct. 3 – Bottomless Sand Filter Design and Installation
  • Oct. 31 – Rhode Island Designer Examination Prep
  • Nov. 5 – AutoCALCS - Automated Support Materials for Pump Timers, Tanks, Chambers, Bottomless Sand Filter Sizing and Buoyancy Calculations
  • Nov. 14 – Identifying and Managing High Strength Wastewater
  • Nov. 21 – Rhode Island Regulatory Setbacks and Buffers

Call 401/874-5950 or visit

North Carolina

The North Carolina Septic Tank Association has these classes:

  • Oct. 14 – Installer/Inspector, Mooresville
  • Oct. 28 – Installer/Inspector, Bolivia
  • Oct. 29 – Pumper and Land Application, Bolivia
  • Nov. 11 – Installer/Inspector, Greensboro
  • Nov. 12 – Pumper and Land Application, Greensboro

Call the association at 336/416-3564 or visit

The North Carolina Pumper Group and Portable Toilet Group have an educational seminar on septage management and land application on
Dec. 14 in Raleigh. Call Joe McClees at 252/249-1097 or visit or


The Chemeketa Community College in Salem has a Maintenance Operator class on Nov. 4-5. Call 503/399-5181 or visit


Utah State University has onsite wastewater treatment certification and renewal workshops in Logan on:

  • Oct. 8-10 – Level 3 Certification
  • Oct. 16 – Level 3 Renewal

Call Ivonne Harris at 435/797-3693 or visit


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