Pennsylvania Septage Management Association

Members of one Pennsylvania septic industry association kicked off the New Year in a big way with a revamped and relocated trade show in late January.

In an industry that has a patchwork of certification and training guidelines, the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association has taken a leadership role in providing educational opportunities for those in the septic business.

That commitment to quality was demonstrated at the group’s annual trade show, which was held January 24 through January 26 at the new Lancaster County Convention Center & Marriott in Lancaster in central Pennsylvania.

The statewide event, which also draws members from Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, expanded into a new conference venue for 2010, according to Lisa Heron, PSMA’s Associate Executive Director.

The group has hosted the annual conference and trade show for years, working within the cozy confines of a nearby Holiday Inn. This year, with the opening of the new county convention center, PSMA was able to double its exhibition space to 15,000 square feet, accommodating twenty-two exhibitors. Heron explained that about 150 people had registered to attend the event, with lodging available at the adjoining Marriott Hotel.

PSMA has some 230 members representing a wide span of septic interests including installers, inspectors, and maintenance workers, along with a host of business representatives who provide machines, supplies, and services to septic contractors.

PSMA has a well-established certification program and routinely offers continuing education credits for PSMA certification. This year, the conference offered two opportunities related to certification: an Inspector’s Standards Refresher Course and the opportunity to take exams at the basic and advanced levels for installation of onsite wastewater treatment systems. A goal of the certification is to work toward providing national onsite standards and improving system installations, according to PSMA’s Herron.

To illustrate its commitment to education and certification, an impressive lineup of speakers was present for the conference. Sara Heger of the University of Minnesota presented the topic, Troubleshooting Septic Tanks. Joe Rausa of Orchard Pump & Supply tapped into the growing “green” construction movement with Exploring Rainwater Harvesting. He discussed design concepts, applications, and system components that are used in rainwater storage for gray-water systems.

Throughout the industry, the interest in these systems is growing, in large part due to the Green Building Rating System known as LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The conference also included a presentation by Joyce Hudson of the United States Environmental Protection Agency about the ways states are incorporating the EPA’s decentralized/onsite management guidance into their regulations.

With topics ranging from Biomat: Friend or Foe to Report Writing, the conference had a full slate of relevant topics to get the year started for those in the septic business. However, another important aspect of the conference was the trade show component—when folks get to see all the new equipment and gadgets marketed to the septic industry.

The Lancaster County Convention Center was a perfect location for the trade show. In the past, truck and large equipment displays were relegated to an outdoor parking lot because of space limitations. While conference attendees were able to see the equipment, they had to battle weather conditions typical for a January day in central Pennsylvania. In short, they saw the equipment, but the weather made for a cold outing.

This year, with the expanded exhibit space, trucks and large equipment were comfortably ensconced in the convention center. Among those represented were Advanced Pump and Equipment of Iowa, Heritage Truck Equipment of Ohio, Imperial Industries Inc. of Wisconsin, and Pik Rite Inc. of Pennsylvania.

Other exhibitors included Lely Manufacturing, Polylok, and Poly Portables. In short, just about any service or material that can be used in the septic business was represented at the trade show.

The conference and trade show was only the beginning of PSMA’s focus on education and certification. At the end of March, the group is sponsoring both basic and advanced Onlot Wastewater Treatment System Inspection seminars.

The two-day courses include “hands-on” training covering septic components, report writing, alternate septic systems, problem–solving, and real-life case studies of so-called “difficult” septic systems.

Later in the year, PSMA will hold training classes and certification covering topics such as vacuum truck technicians, confined space entry, and onlot sewage disposal systems. All classes can be held at the member’s site.

PSMA has a clearly defined certification process that details certification hours and continuing education topics. The group’s mission is “To protect Pennsylvania’s citizens and our industry through sound management, proper maintenance, and environmentally conscious disposal of wastewater.”

With an impressive January conference and trade-show lineup and a relevant certification and continuing education program, the Pennsylvania Septage Management Association is on track to become one of the industry’s leaders.

Those interested in learning more about the group, membership, and educational opportunities should visit its website at

Story by Marie Elium

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