You Have a Learner’s Permit for the WWETT Show

The biggest show on wastewater includes a variety of great seminars to sharpen your skills and gain continuing education credits

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Business will be booming at the WWETT Show this month as thousands in the wastewater industry converge on the nation’s crossroads in Indianapolis. The conference runs Feb. 20-23 at the Indiana Convention Center, with exhibitors open for business Feb. 21-23.

Attendees will certainly be excited to see new products displayed in one of the biggest expo halls in the country. They will also revel in renewing acquaintances with other professionals during many planned and accidental networking opportunities. WWETT is the place to talk business with other contractors and manufacturer’s reps on the show floor.

But the education sessions are what really stokes the fires for onsite installers during this midwinter extravaganza. For many, the industry gathering comes at a dormant time for your crews — when the frozen tundra back home keeps your earth-moving machines stalled and covered with snow in the yard. This is a time when you can study new onsite system products, refresh yourself on regulations, and gain all-important continuing education credits to keep your skills sharp and licenses up to date. When the WWETT Show class schedule is released, I like to review the offerings and make suggestions for seminars installers won’t want to miss. Every year many topics are addressed by a roster of experts from across the country. It’s almost paralyzing to look at the course schedule when you arrive and try to figure out which of the cavernous meeting rooms you want to enter.

Here are a smattering of the seminars I find most interesting:

Big Ideas, Little Tiny Space Design and Install Challenges

You’ve all seen it before. A client has great ideas for putting a large home on a small waterfront property. But how do you design a system that will satisfy the customer and overcome the challenges of extremely limited space or environmental restrictions? A panel discussion will feature Brian Corwin, director of Williamson County (Tennessee) Department of Sewage Disposal Management; Morris Smith, owner of Morris Smith Engineering; and Roxanne Groover, president of the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association. The group will provide real-life examples and offer creative design solutions.

Mound Design

As more stringent septic system design rules are implemented to protect the environment and precious water supplies, sand mounds or raised bed systems have become a popular upgrade from simple belowground trench drainfields. The mounds can be employed to overcome shallow groundwater, a shallow soil mantle, poor native soils or insufficient depth to limiting layers. Larry Stephens, president at Stephens Consulting Services, will help participants recognize suitable sites for mound systems, how to place the mound for optimal drainage and review the benefits and limitations of mound systems.

Safety Concerns During the Installation of Onsite Sewage Systems

The construction-related trades, including onsite installing, are among the most dangerous occupations — presenting many potential hazards every day, including tasks such as trenching and excavation, confined-space entry, exposure to Occupational Safety and Health Administration Focus 4 hazards and infectious disease threats. Speaker Chuck Ahrens, executive director of the Washington On-Site Sewage Association, has developed safety training programs and will help installers identify potential safety hazards and talk about necessary personal protective equipment to prevent injuries on the job site.

Introduction to Nitrogen Removal

Nitrogen can be a dirty word in the world of onsite wastewater systems. Excess nitrogen poses many dangers when it leaches into our waterways, from sickening swimmers to promoting algal blooms that bring dissolved oxygen levels that kill fish and cover lakes with bright green scum layer. Presenter Allison Blodig, a wastewater treatment system specialist at Infiltrator Water Technologies, will cover the fundamentals of the nitrogen cycle, explain the difference between nitrification and denitrification, discuss at least two types of treatment systems used for nitrogen reduction and share troubleshooting options for these systems.

Starting an Apprenticeship Program for Your Installing Business

We’re all aware of the shortage of qualified installers and the aging of the industry. So finding ways to encourage training programs for young people in the industry is a huge topic. Presenter Matthew Harrison, manager at Oregon’s Scout Septic, will review how his company built an apprenticeship program and share the lessons he learned along the way. Topics will include systemizing the training program, creating recruitment and incentive benchmarks, and embracing regulators, manufacturers and distributors as part of the program.

Flow Equalization and Time Dosing

Balanced downstream distribution of effluent throughout the day is the goal to reduce stress and ensure proper operation of complex onsite systems. Kevin Sherman, director of engineering and regulatory affairs at SeptiTech Inc., will lead the discussion. He will state the objectives of time-dosing, compare demand- and time-dosing, talk about situations where flow equalization will greatly improve system performance, and discuss if both methods of controlling flow can be used in the same system.

Septic Sleuth — Evaluating Those Rarities Found During an OWTS Inspection

A variety of inspection scenarios will be presented leading to an interactive discussion between presenter John Ferdetta, president of Quest 4 and Advanced Septic Pros, and the participants. The group will share their experiences with OWTS inspections and talk about solutions to common problems. The goal is to refine inspection protocols and improve evaluation skills for all in the industry.

Important Points for Inspecting Drip Irrigation

As more drip irrigation systems are put in the ground, it’s important for onsite inspectors to gain more knowledge about their operation. Frank Parker, president of Parker Wastewater Consulting, will cover how the systems are designed and when designers will choose to use them. He will explain how to evaluate each component according to the proper inspection protocol. And he will stress why these systems should receive regular operations and maintenance service for long-lasting performance.   


Sharpen your skills for the popular excavation skills competition, The ROE-D-HOE Championship, which returns to the WWETT Show this year. In the pre-COVID-19 days, hundreds of machine operators would enter the competition to face off with the best installer operators from across the country and beyond.

The popular event is back and will draw crowds of participants and spectators. WWETT Show attendees will join winners from state ROE-D-HOE competitions, all vying to wear the championship belt and take home cash prizes. The competition is a series of timed skills tests to move items with a mini-excavator or backhoe. Installers take a great deal of pride in efficient machine operation skills built up over years — and generations — of job site digging. Are you ready to compete?

Many of you have already made plans to attend the WWETT Show. Some of you may be reading this story after your arrival at the Indiana Convention Center. If you want to learn more about the 2023 event, go to


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