Getting Back to Normal: Attend an Industry Event

The WWETT Show and other industry tradeshows will shake the rust from our skill sets and prepare us for coming advances in onsite technology

February is considered more of a dormant period for many installers in the northern U.S. and the colder regions of Canada. Frost in the ground, short days and few customers calling on the phone might cause you to slow down — even in this hot construction period. And if there were ever a slow period in parts of the U.S. that experience better weather, this month would be it. 

That’s why this is tradeshow season for contractors used to working outdoors. The winter typically is when state, regional and national trade groups hold annual meetings, plan continuing education classes for technicians and set new association boards to work on the major issues of the day. It’s also when the big daddy event in the wastewater industry, the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show, is held.

After a year of COVID-19 kept many in the industry from gathering, the WWETT Show promises to come alive and provide much-needed networking, education and equipment sales opportunities. As this issue reaches your mailbox, you probably still have time to hop in the car or book a flight to Indianapolis to take part in WWETT. Mark your calendars for Feb. 20-24 at the Indiana Convention Center, the familiar show location for many years. And if you want to learn more about the WWETT Show, go to Also, many of you may be reading this for the first time from the WWETT Show floor. If so, welcome to Indy!


There are many reasons to attend the WWETT Show or your state or provincial wastewater group’s winter conferences, and now more than ever. That’s because most of us have essentially missed two years of opportunities to learn from each other and benefit from experts in the field. It puts some installers two years behind in gaining education credits and seeing demonstrations of the latest onsite technologies.

Let’s face it, technology is moving at a blistering pace. Health departments and governing bodies move quickly to protect our clean-water resources and manufacturers respond to market demands for better, more cost-effective treatment systems. What better way to learn about these technologies than through hands-on demonstrations by the folks who are creating the products?

And at the same time, we have all learned during the pandemic about the myriad of challenges to hiring and retaining a new generation of wastewater professionals. If you are fortunate, you are bringing on new crew members to meet heightened customer demand in 2022. And you are paying more dollars for that workforce. Their training has to match your investment or you’re not getting true value for these important human assets. 

So while you’re booking a room for yourself, consider how valued members of your team could benefit from attending the WWETT Show or another wastewater industry event. You could supercharge these young workers’ careers by immersing them in the WWETT Show experience. Between the learning opportunities, seeing the vast array of new equipment on the exhibit floor, and meeting other successful installer technicians, they will understand the great potential to be found in the world of onsite. When properly nurtured and encouraged, these workers could become the leaders to take your company to the next level.


With that in mind, I’m excited about the education sessions planned for the WWETT Show. Here’s a brief rundown on a few of the seminars installers will find beneficial: 

Drones: Endless Opportunities, with Jim Aanderud from the TUIT Group
Just like drone photography has been seeping into some of our System Profile features to give an overhead perspective on tank and drainfield designs, this aerial technology has a lot of potential to help the onsite industry. Among the uses, Aanderud will talk about pipeline inspections, easements and remote area mapping, infrastructure inspection, documenting work sites and emergency situations. The seminar will cover different types of drones, laws governing drone usage and exploring markets where drones may be useful.

25 Products and Tools That Will Get You Out of a Jam, with Michael Stephens, wastewater product manager for Valley Farms Supply
Stephens knows how challenging septic system repairs can be: “Ever stand over a problem scratching your head and saying, ‘How am I gonna fix that?’ I’ve struggled with those jobs in tight spots, with less than ideal conditions, and with piping and equipment that is no longer in a position to be maintained or repaired easily,” he says. So his seminar will identify difficult repair scenarios, how to choose the right tool for the job and show how to network with others in the industry to overcome onsite repair obstacles.

Successfully Designing for Graywater Reuse Systems, with Cory Lyon, business unit manager for Orenco Systems
As groundwater supplies dwindle in drought-stricken regions, recycling wastewater will become more important. State governments today are more willing to consider graywater systems as part of overall onsite wastewater treatment projects. Lyon will explain how graywater can be treated to acceptable levels for recycling for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing, cooling towers, water features and landscaping irrigation. A goal of his talk is to help installers understand the advantages and disadvantages of separating graywater from a primary waste stream. 

NOWRA One-Day Installer Class, with Kevin Sherman, SeptiTech, and Dennis Hallahan, Allstate Septic Systems
Mark your calendars for Feb. 23 if anyone on your team needs to cover a lot of educational territory in the wastewater industry. This certification course will cover best practice standards for installers, including an introduction to onsite systems, safety practices, soil and site concepts, construction materials and techniques, effluent distribution, tanks, dosing systems and controls and advanced treatment systems. The program will “establish a benchmark for competency of installers and enhances the overall status of the onsite wastewater treatment profession,” according to a course description. 

The Laws and Regulations Surrounding PPE and Coronavirus, with Travis Vance, partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP
A timely seminar as installers return to the WWETT Show after the pandemic, Vance will cover the responsibilities installing companies have to ensure a safe working environment, specifically in light of COVID-19. Topics to be covered include the three Congressional relief laws: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act and the CARES Act. Vance will stress that the pandemic’s influence on the workplace is not over. Further, the seminar will explain how to complete PPE and hazard assessments for onsite workplaces, review safety training requirements and discuss safe work practices and guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control.

The Principles of O&M in OWTS, with Kim Seipp, of High Plains Sanitation Service
Seipp will explain the principles of good operations and maintenance in all types of onsite systems. And the seminar is well timed for the emerging O&M market. “As systems become more complex, the need for oversight and maintenance is becoming more crucial,” she says. More and more, advanced onsite systems require regular attention, and installers can step in to provide that added service. Seipp will discuss the lifecycle of a variety of systems, the importance of effective communication with customers, and proper training and certification for service providers. 


Some of the most memorable moments from a trade show happen outside of the classroom or the exhibit hall. It’s those chance meetings with other installer professionals that can lead to lifelong industry friendships. It’s gathering together with your team or colleagues over a cold beer or a dinner out at one of the many great bars and restaurants in downtown Indianapolis. 

The WWETT Show is helping out with those social networking opportunities. You can attend planned mixers for attendees new to the wastewater industry, and for women working in the industry. There is the Indy Brew Bus Tour that runs after the exhibit hall closes, taking attendees around to sample craft beers at several breweries.    

Over many years of attending the WWETT Show, installers have often told me they turned this working event into their favorite vacation of the year. Being able to mix work with pleasure shows how much our installer community enjoys being part of a dynamic wastewater industry. 


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