In Case

In case you haven’t noticed, onsite wastewater is no longer an exclusively male domain.

This has occurred on several fronts. More and more septic companies are being run by women, either in conjunction with their husbands or by virtue of inheritance. And while female operators used to confine themselves to bookkeeping, more and more are getting their hands dirty, as well.

But this is only part of the story. The increased emphasis on environmental concerns in onsite wastewater has drawn the attention of female engineering and environmental students who see septic work as a logical extension of what they’ve learned. By now, some of them are involved in setting rules and regulations for the industry.

A good example is Sara Heger Christopherson, one of the main speakers at the fifth annual National Onsite Wastewater Association Installer Academy to be run in conjunction with the Pumper Show scheduled for Louisville, KY Feb. 22-27.

According to her bio at the University of Minnesota: “Since 1998, as an engineer in the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) at the University of Minnesota, Sara Heger Christopherson has been providing education and technical assistance to homeowners, small communities, onsite professionals and local units of government on issues regarding onsite wastewater treatment. Due to changing regulations in Minnesota, Christopherson is serving as principal investigator and one of the lead authors on an updated training manual for onsite practitioners. She is also a lead author on the national project writing team for the Consortium of Institutes for Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (CIDWT) Installer Curriculum Project and presents at many local and national training events.

“Christopherson recently completed a research project demonstrating and testing options to treat wastewater from dairy milk houses. Current research she is involved with includes a raw wastewater study and evaluating soil phosphorus removal mechanisms.

“Christopherson serves on the board of the Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association (MOWA) and as the education chairperson for the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA). She is also the chair of the Minnesota State Advisory Committee on Decentralized Systems and serves on the MPCA Technical Assistance Panel.”

Two of the four presenters on the first day of the Academy, in fact, are women.

  • Participants at the Installer Academy will also get the opportunity to tour the Zoeller company plant in Louisville. The company manufactures submersible sump, sewage, effluent, wastewater, explosion proof, grinder & engineered pumps & pumping systems, basins, controls and accessories.”

    For those of you who remain true to the “Made in the USA” model, this is a good example.

  • The Colorado Professionals in Onsite Waterwater (CPOW) will be importing a keynote speaker all the way from Florida for its convention in Denver Jan. 28-29. Mark Hooks now runs Hooks Environmental Consulting but was formerly an official with the Florida Department of Health.

    Subjects to be discussed in training sessions and general roundtables in Denver include pumpers, varieties of soil, new state regulations and a pipe workshop.

  • It’s a few months away, but the Tennessee Onsite Wastewater Assocation will devote a sizable chunk of its March 23 training session in Murfreesboro to this familiar question: “What To Do When a Basic Septic System Will Not Work At A Difficult Site.”
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