Visit the WWETT Show to Enhance Your Wastewater Education

The national trade show is early this year, offering installers a glimpse of the latest equipment, valuable learning and networking opportunities

Visit the WWETT Show to Enhance Your Wastewater Education

Hands-on demonstrations at the WWETT Show offer a huge advantage for installers shopping for their next valuable piece of equipment. (file photo)

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Recently I was having a wide-ranging conversation with an Onsite Installer reader about challenges facing contractors in the decentralized wastewater treatment industry. Many trends in septic system design and installation will make for an exciting — and in some ways uncertain — future for our trade.

A couple of points we discussed:

• The onsite landscape is changing. Available lots for development are less advantageous for onsite systems, with smaller property size, difficult topography and substandard soils. As the best land has already been built on, our understanding of new technologies will play a greater role in success for installers.

  The graying of our workforce. As many installers age out of the industry, we need to do all we can to show younger people that septic system design and installing provides excellent opportunities for growth and to earn a good living. Excavation, design, inspections and the regulator side of the business provide great career paths. The sky is the limit, really.

• The environment needs our help. Much of America’s onsite infrastructure is quickly reaching the end of its useful life and failing systems are more and more seen as an environmental nuisance. There are many dynamic changes being made by our industry product manufacturers to  allow us to offer new and much better solutions to providing clean effluent.

About the time of this conversation, I was starting to look forward to the 2024 WWETT Show, scheduled for Jan. 24-27 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. And I was reminded that the biggest annual trade show for the wastewater industry offers a great opportunity to start to tackle the major challenges facing all of you in the years ahead.


Just as the WWETT Show (which many of you remember in the past as the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo) has always been an important event in my education and industry networking, so it has been for thousands of installers. Many of you attend the show every year, or at least every few years, to keep pace with industry advancements.

You find it important to view the latest new pumps, tanks, components and other products you employ in the field as part of the huge expo hall display. Many of you also take part in education offerings at the show, some of which provide continuing education credits required from your state or local health departments.

But I will make an additional pitch for you to attend the WWETT Show. It offers a great boost to the younger members of your team! When you take along a new crew member or someone from your office staff, they gain a greater appreciation for what it means to work in the onsite installing industry. They see the most sophisticated equipment available to installers — and realize the skills necessary to get the job done right these days. They network with other professionals and take more pride in the essential service they provide back home in your community. The learning opportunities will set them up for career advancement and a bigger paycheck down the road.

The WWETT Show continues to grow. Last year, under the management of Informamarkets, the show had more than 12,000 attendees from 46 countries and more than 500 exhibitors. It will have an estimated 600 exhibitors this year. The show is earlier this year — it has been traditionally held in February. The first day of the WWETT Show, Wednesday, Jan. 24, is for education only. The exhibit hall opens 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.


One thing that will interest installers is the return of the National Backhoe Roe-D-Hoe Championship competition sponsored by the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA). The three-day (Jan. 25-27) machine operator skills competition allows attendees to compete for belt buckles, bragging rights and up to $1,000 in prize money.

This year there will be almost 100 education seminars covering a broad range of wastewater and business-building topics. I’ve read the entire course book so you don’t necessarily have to — though I encourage you to review it carefully to choose the classes that would best serve you and your crew. Here are nine sessions I would recommend for installers:

How Are OWTS Contaminants Transported and Treated Beneath the Soil Treatment Area 

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 9-10 a.m.

Learn about the negative effects of key pollutants in septic system effluent, followed by a discussion about nitrogen, phosphorus, pathogenic bacteria and emerging contaminants in the soil treatment area. Recognize the importance of ideal soil properties for effective treatment in a septic system and discuss the mechanisms involved in retention or mobility of dissolved contaminants found in effluent. The speaker is Sergio Abit, PhD., the state specialist for onsite wastewater treatment systems in Oklahoma and a faculty member in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Oklahoma State University.

Wood Chips and Chamber Systems – Canadian Examples of Installation Best Practices

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 9-10 a.m.

The presentation focuses on designing systems that use shallow-based recycled plastic chambers in combination with wood chip covering to produce high-quality effluent and preserve a natural landscape. Learn how to design systems to complement natural landscapes and woodlands and what types of climate and terrain work best with these systems. The LFH at-grade systems were extensively researched at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. The presenters are Ben Kele, project manager at Arris Water, and Lesley Desjardins, executive director at the Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association.

Design Considerations For Multiple Tank Wastewater Treatment Systems

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Explore best practices for positioning and layout of multiple-tank systems to handle larger flows, reduce downstream surges and incorporate additional treatment systems. Learn how to consider installation and maintenance factors in system designs with tanks in close proximity. Other topics include measures to counter buoyancy for underground tanks and key considerations when installing tanks in close proximity. The session will be led by Claude Goguen, director of outreach and technical education at the National Precast Concrete Association, and Dennis Hallahan, technical director at Infiltrator Water Technologies. 

Troubleshooting and Repairing Onsite and Decentralized Systems

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

Learn steps to properly diagnose a failing septic system that someone else installed and when customers prefer a repair to replacement. Topics to be covered include common failure issues, how to bring a system back into compliance, the practicality of partial replacement, and when a repair is not feasible and replacement is necessary. The presenter is Ben Kele, project manager at Arris Water.

Commercial System Design Considerations 

Wednesday, Jan 24, 1-2:30 p.m.

This is an overview of design options for systems treating commercial and high-strength wastes. Learn how to design for systems that have varying usage patterns, waste strength and waste stream characteristics. Topics include recognizing businesses most likely to generate challenging wastewater streams, calculating the organic loading from a facility, and the benefit of obtaining flow and waste-strength data. The speaker is Sara Heger, PhD, instructor and researcher at the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program in the Water Resources Center at the University of Minnesota.

Designing With Constructability and Ease of Operation in Mind

Wednesday, Jan. 24. 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Learn to set priorities for an onsite system during the design stage based on site conditions and available system components. Exploring a supplied example site, determine the level of treatment required, the tanks and other components needed and the impacts of a complex system on the installer, operator, inspector and owner. Presenters are Danna Revis, master alternative onsite sewage evaluator at Old Dominion Onsite, and Kevin Sherman, director of engineering and regulatory Affairs for SeptiTech.

Troubleshooting Septic System Issues and Standard Practice on Installing Septic Systems 

Thursday, Jan. 25, 11 a.m.-noon.

Learn tips for working effectively with customers from the first troubleshooting call to a finished system repair or replacement. Review will cover standard practices from diagnosis to installing a new septic tank or drainfield. Topics to be covered include helping customers over the phone to save time and money, determining if the system has a serious issue and explaining the proper techniques for installation. The speaker is Travis Gemmell, owner of Walnut Grove Excavating.

General Session – Trade Associations in the Wastewater Industry

Thursday, Jan. 25, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

A panel discussion involving representatives of several industry trade associations will cover topics including advocacy, raising industry standards, education and workforce issues. A Q&A session will follow. Panelists include Kim Seipp, of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians; Sheila Joy, executive director at the National Association of Sewer Service Companies; Tom Groves, executive director of NOWRA; and Veronica Crosier, executive director of the Portable Sanitation Association International.

Preparation, Response and Prevention of Injuries in the Field

Friday, Jan. 26, noon-1 p.m.

Explore ways to reduce on-the-job worker injuries that average 2.3 million cases annually. The seminar will cover knowing each working environment, scene safety protocols and best practices in response to prevent future accidents. Discussed will be OSHA regulations, becoming an effective first responder, responding to common injuries with first aid and CPR training, and ways to analyze and isolate accidents. The presenter is Kaitlyn Polowy, a health and safety coordinator for the U.S. Navy.


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