Fall 2022
  • President's Message
  • Upcoming Training - Nov 15th
  • NOWRA Update
  • Membership
  • I/A OWTS Update
  • Thank you, Dan Ottenheimer
  • Recap from June Training
  • SepticSmart Photo Challenge
YOWA's 2022 President
Alyssa Rusiecki
Welcome to our Fall Newsletter,

As we traverse the new landscape determined by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are pleased to be getting back to some routine activities such as site visits, in-person training, and in-person meetings. Covid-19 has affected all of us, and all of our businesses. We can continue to take public health precautions and use them to protect ourselves, as well as those around us.

Personal public health interventions, such as hand washing, fist/elbow bumps instead of shaking hands, mask wearing - where and when appropriate - and vaccinations will all go a long way in getting us back to our normal routines.

On the on-site wastewater front, we are pleased to provide you with some current information and future updates regarding potential regulations directed at Nitrogen reduction from on-site systems that are near sensitive water bodies. We are also excited to provide you with our next in-person training on Soil Basics on November 15, in Newton MA.

Alyssa Rusiecki, YOWA President
Register for YOWA's Upcoming Training
NOWRA Update
As you well know, YOWA is an affiliate of NOWRA, the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association. NOWRA is our industry’s voice on both the national and international stage, and in this role the association remains committed to following and when possible guiding the release of funds to the onsite wastewater industry included in the infrastructure bill that President Biden signed in November of 2020. The bill authorizes $50 million of funding through the EPA for each of the Fiscal Years 2022 – 2026, for a total of $250 million.

The NOWRA Board of Governors and its government relations team in Washington, which it underwrites, worked diligently for years - including participating in several “Fly-In" meetings with individual legislators - to support the passage of this historic bill. Though a wonderful accomplishment, the work is far from over. Congress must vote each year to appropriate the money to the EPA, and for budgeting-related reasons there have been no funds appropriated to this program to date. NOWRA and its lobbyists have been assured that appropriations will be made to the many programs that are waiting, including this EPA-managed onsite program, following the elections this fall. NOWRA and its lobbyists will remain focused on ensuring that monies are in fact appropriated to fund the program, and YOWA will keep you informed of developments as they take place.

Online education has become a cornerstone of NOWRA. NOWRA’s Installer Academy allows professionals like yourself to access high quality onsite wastewater training and even obtain continuing education units (CEUs) online through their website at reasonable prices (www.nowra.org). It is likely you know that state affiliate members, including of course YOWA members, get reduced pricing on Installer Academy courses. What you may not know is that NOWRA remits a percentage of the online training fees it receives back to the affiliate – that is, when you take a NOWRA training course, YOWA receives a small portion of the fee you pay! This NOWRA program has become very important to the financial viability of many of the state affiliate groups.

Last October NOWRA held its first in-person conference since 2020 in San Marcos, Texas. This year the annual “Mega-Conference” is being held October 30 to November 2 at the University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield, Missouri. NOWRA, the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT), the State Onsite Regulators Association (SORA), and the Missouri Smallflows Organization (MSO) are hosting the event. Last year more than 400 people participated in person and nearly 100 attended virtually, and registrations to date indicate that this year’s event in Missouri will be larger. Spaces in the exhibit hall and both field trips are sold out. As in the past, the conference will feature ongoing technical sessions with tracks this year focused on Research, Underserved Communities, Nutrient Removal, Emerging Issues, Funding and Education. The exhibit hall will offer attendees the opportunity to mingle with employees and representatives of more than 40 companies, and the 2022 National Backhoe Roe-D-Hoe® competition will once again challenge participants and entertain observers.

Your membership in YOWA supports both your local association, as well as the national association. Both are working hard to make our industry better. Thank you for your support!
The YOWA Board of Directors would like to express our deepest gratitude for your continued membership and support. If you haven't already, please take this opportunity to renew your membership for 2022.

Stay at the forefront of the latest industry news, trends, and technology and retain access to additional benefits, such as:
  • Reduced registration rates for workshops and trainings
  • Legislative updates
  • Membership in NOWRA and discounts on training such as NOWRA's Installer Academy.

If you have any questions or feedback regarding your experience with YOWA, please contact the YOWA directly.

We look forward to serving you for another year.
The YOWA Board of Directors
I/A OWTS Update on Cape Cod

There has been a lot of activity in the past year around enhanced Innovative/Alternative (I/A) septic systems, or I/A Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS). Data to date indicates a number of these systems work at levels that will make a difference on nitrogen loads and are cost effective. All of this has resulted in a clear sense of momentum and that I/A should become a good “tool in the toolbox” alongside sewering to reduce loads. Of course, they will need to be designed, installed and managed properly.

Managed and funded by the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition (BCWC) and supported by the US EPA Office of Research and Development, the US Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC), the Shubael Pond I/A Septic System Project is well underway. From August 2021 to August 2022, twelve KleanTu® NitROE® Wastewater Treatment Systems and one non-proprietary woodchip bioreactor septic system were installed as part of a neighborhood demonstration project. Early performance statistics paint an encouraging picture, with median nitrogen removal to less than 5 mg/L. To stay abreast of progress in this project, please go to the BCWC website — bcleanwater.org — to learn more about the project through their informative newsletters and video library and to join their mailing list.

A number of towns have started the process of including I/As in their Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan (CWMP) planning and emerging ordinances. Wellfleet, for instance, has passed an ordinance reimbursing homeowners $12,500 for installing an I/A system. 

The NEWEA I/A OWTS Task Force (Task Force) ran five webinars and a charrette in the past year to shine light on eight different technologies/vendors and explore how to manage (see below) and fund I/A systems. Recordings and slides sets have been posted to the Task Force resources page, along with other links that will help professionals and consumers self-educate about I/A. See: www.newea.org/resources/innovation/resources

In August, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), NEWEA’s parent, announced the creation of a Distributed Water Infrastructure Task Force (DWITF). Its first meeting was just held at WEFTEC.

These events are encouraging for YOWA and all onsite wastewater industry professionals. A major part of YOWA’s advocacy is to promote the use of onsite wastewater treatment systems as a reliable part of overall wastewater infrastructure. The work of the I/A taskforce fits in well with YOWA's mission.

Regulation Changes Coming to Title 5

There are multiple pressures on our regulatory structures to expand watershed protections and recovery. In June MassDEP announced plans to expand the areas designated as Nitrogen Sensitive Areas to include watersheds impacted by nitrogen. On Cape Cod this would include 30 estuaries with established nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). The proposed regulations will drive adoption of individual systems and a focus on watershed level implementations. MassDEP is working toward public comment with a target for finalizing regulations in 2023. 

This is significant for I/As, as it will drive significant increases in I/A installations and resulting Operations, Maintenance and Monitoring (OM&M).

Managing I/A as Infrastructure

For I/A to fulfill its promise, it needs to be managed as infrastructure. To guide OM&M, the Task Force conducted a charrette last winter at the NEWEA Annual Conference. Thirty senior water professionals convened live and via Zoom to brainstorm about the question of how to manage I/As. As a starting point stakeholders embraced EPA’s concept of a Responsible Management Entity (RME). After hearing presentations from Federal, state, county, town and regional levels (including Long Island) participants broke into four study groups and debated questions that included a vision for I/As in 10 years. A key conclusion was that only I/A systems should be allowed to be installed by that point; basic Title 5 septic system installations should by then be a thing of the past. A read-out of the charrette and conclusions drawn is posted on the Task Force’s Resources page.

MASSTC will lead the RME charge. They estimate a $3M price tag over five years to establish a pilot RME. At scale it would be self-sustaining through user fees, but the initial stand-up will require investment funding. As of October 2022, MASSTC has received grant funding to help create the pilot RME, including an initial $100,000 from TNC and $1.15M from EPA Southeast New England Program (SNEP) over the next five years. The Task Force is working to help architect a sustainable strategy, including public and private sources, to fund multiple steps in Cape Cod’s water quality path to nitrogen load reduction. Capital will be needed for permitting, RME establishment, adoption, as well as growth capital for companies experiencing what should be order-of-magnitude growth.

Peeling the Onion

A more detailed article on I/As will be published in the NEWEA Journal winter edition, slated for mid-January. And as noted, a good resource for self-education is the Task Force's resource page.

Bruce Walton is a third-generation Cape Cod homeowner who chairs NEWEA’s I/A OWTS Task Force. Recently retired, he was a retainer-based executive recruiter in Boston after time with IBM, Hood Sailmakers and the U.S. Navy. He is a former board member of the NorthEast Water Innovation Network (NEWIN).

*Look for MASSTC Director Brian Baumgaertel's response to the proposed N-sensitive regulations in the next issue of YOWA's newsletter.
Thank You, Dan Ottenheimer
The YOWA Board of Directors held its annual meeting on June 8, 2022 - in person for the first time in several years! - at The Edwards House in Framingham, Massachusetts. It was both enjoyable and encouraging to see one another.

The Board spent the morning getting caught up and meeting at length with Denise Boyd and Mark Hoffman of Empower Success Corp (ESC), our extremely helpful and long-committed consultants, on how to grow our association and increase its impact on the industry in New England. The highlight of the day, however, was a short but meaningful celebration of Dan Ottenheimer’s service to YOWA and our industry.

Dan is a professional engineer who has been knee-deep in the onsite industry for decades. He founded Mill River Consulting in 1996, a Gloucester-based company focused on finding sustainable solutions for commercial and residential land use issues, including wastewater. Dan is committed to the industry; he is a registered sanitarian as well as a Title 5 soil evaluator and system inspector. He has worked at DEP, consulted with the Massachusetts Bay Program, and was the Public Health Director for the city of Gloucester for almost 10 years. He has served on the boards of the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA) and the Massachusetts Environmental Health Association (MEHA) in addition to YOWA. He is also a member of several other industry-related groups including Massachusetts DEP's Title 5 Advisory Committee, the Granite State Onsite Wastewater Association and the Connecticut Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association.

Dan was a founding member of YOWA, which was formed in 2006. After a brief stint as MAOWP (Massachusetts Association of Onsite Wastewater Professionals) from 2012 to 2016 with a focus on serving only the State of Massachusetts, the association returned to its original charge as a regional association and renamed itself YOWA. Dan took on the role of President in 2018 and served until this past June. During his tenure, membership has grown to nearly 100 professionals representing four states, YOWA coordinated in-person training multiple times a year, and a partnership with NOWRA, with a focus on online education, was fostered, which has resulted in a solid balance sheet.

Tom Groves is pictured above handing Dan a gift certificate to one of his wife’s favorite restaurants, provided by members of the Board. Tom is not only Executive Director of NOWRA, as well as a founding member and past President of YOWA, but he is also a good friend of Dan’s. It was a very nice moment! Thanks Dan!
Recap of YOWA's Summer Training
YOWA hosted our Summer Training, Title 5 Inspections: Basic to Advanced, on June 10 at UMass Amherst’s Mount Ida Campus in Newton, MA. This event, which was attended by approximately 50 participants, featured a full day of presentations.

Presenters, including Marybeth Chubb, Eric Denslow, Claire Golden, Rebekah Novak, Bob Silva, and Laurie Stevens, presented on workplace safety, conducting an inspection, water testing, and troubleshooting issues and best practices. Participants were eligible to earn Soil Evaluator; System Inspector; Registered Sanitarian; and MA WWTP Operator Training Contact Hours for attending.

YOWA’s next training will once again take place in Newton, MA on November 15. The agenda and registration information is now available on YOWA's site.
SepticSmart Photo Challenge
SepticSmart Week 2022 took place September 19-23. This annual event brings awareness to the importance of caring for and maintaining septic systems. Communities, organizations, and state governments recognize this weeklong event by organizing homeowner education events, hosting workshops, and sharing informational content, and it is an opportunity to issue a proclamation in support of this week.

This year marked the 10th anniversary of SepticSmart Week. To celebrate this occasion, the EPA Decentralized Wastewater Program, in collaboration with the EPA Decentralized MOU Partnership, hosted its inaugural SepticSmart Photo Challenge. Septic homeowners, wastewater professionals, and state and local officials were invited to submit septic-themed photos that are meaningful to them. Three winners and one honorable mention were named.

First Place: Janine Reed
The winning photo documented the “sewage heart” of tree roots removed from a septic tank. The roots, which love feeding on sewage, traveled 60 feet to consume a septic tank and sewage pipes’ effluent.

Second Place: Samantha Russell
In their second-place photo, Samantha Russell of Skagit County Environmental Health, Washington displays a model of a septic system used in their classes educating homeowners on septic systems and maintenance.

Third Place: Donna Fiorentino
Infiltrator Water Technologies put together a photo challenge encouraging participants to snap pictures of Septic Sam, reminding everyone to “Do Your Part, Be SepticSmart!”. These photos were compiled into a collage in the shape of the United States. YOWA’s own Vice President Dick Bachelder can be seen near Massachusetts in the collage, posing with Septic Sam from his dock overlooking York River.

Honorable Mention: Anna Aperans
Anna’s three-year old son, who is fascinated by septic and wastewater systems, displays his drawing of his septic system plan. In the photo, he stands in front of a septic system and a barricade to protect it, built from his toy blocks. The first design plan of a potential future water professional!

Congratulations to all of the winners. Visit the EPA’s website to view the photos and learn more about SepticSmart Week.