Yankee Onsite Wastewater Association

The Yankee Onsite Wastewater Association (YOWA) is different from other septic associations across the country in that they represent six states instead of just one. Encompassing Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, YOWA works to represent all sectors of the septic industry for the entire New England region.

YOWA is affiliated with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) and has seventy members across the region. Formed in 2005, the association is still fairly new and focusing on providing education opportunities in order to promote growth. They have a Board of Directors with 13 members and they meet in the New England Water Environment Association’s Massachusetts facility in a conference room that makes it easy for people to call in if they can’t attend in person.

In addition, YOWA holds an annual meeting, held in late October that is in conjunction with the Massachusetts Health Officers Association. The big event for the association, though, is the show YOWA will be co-hosting alongside NOWRA April 2-5, 2012. Executive Director Russell Martin is excited about the partnership, “This is the first time we’ve partnered with a big organization like NOWRA. We’re hoping it will get a big draw from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as attendees from across the country.” Held at the Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island, the show will feature two days of classes and a third day of field trips, of which show goers will have three to choose from.

The first of the three to choose from will be to the Massachusetts Test Center in Buzzard’s Bay. The second will be in conjunction with the University of Rhode Island where a lot of training and research is done to improve the septic industry. People will be able to tour the facility and installations housed there. The third trip will be another facility tour, this time, in Connecticut. Each trip, taking place on April 5, will last the entire day and bus transportation and lunches will be provided.

The education portion of the show, according Martin, “is a fairly rigorous program to get accepted into as a presenter.” Those wishing to present need to submit extensive abstracts and papers on their topics. The papers, in turn, get critiqued by experts in their field of expertise. “The presentations are high quality,” Martin says. The show will be a good opportunity to hear from presenters from all over the country, as YOWA typically draws from regional presenters throughout the year.

Above all, YOWA is trying to promote onsite wastewater treatment as a viable option. “Being a regional association,” Martin says, “it’s a little difficult to get the word out because people think very locally.” To combat that issue, the association puts out two or three newsletters every year, relying on submissions from industry professionals. The newsletter also features a calendar of events, featuring happenings across the region and not just relegated to things going on with YOWA, but with other organizations and even national events, as well.

The association is also supporting NOWRA’s effort to get a lobbyist to help government see onsite as a viable option. “Most government money goes to treatment plants,” Martin explains, “We’re trying to argue that a larger share should go to onsite.”

Martin is confident that even though YOWA is a newer association, they are on the right path toward growth. “Right now we’re getting established and feeling our way around with the resources that we do have,” he says, “We’re growing and dealing with the uniqueness of representing six states instead of one.”

For more information call 888.YOWAORG (888.969.2674) or visit www.yankeeonsite.org.

Story by Megan McClure

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