Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association: An Association for the People

Alabama Onsite Wastewater AssociationThe Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association (AOWA) is a non-profit association working hard to help those in the most need of assistance throughout the state of Alabama.

Poverty is a major issue plaguing Alabama due, in part, to the poor economy. AOWA Executive Director Dave Roll says there are thousands of people either without septic or with septic systems that aren’t working. Over the last three and a half years, AOWA, through donated services and materials, has installed 100 systems to those in need. “There are an awful lot of people making $6- to 700 a month,” Roll says. “We try to help the neediest of the needy first.”

AOWA President Richard Reaves started the program of donating septic services to those who can’t help themselves, and Roll labels AOWA “the organization of last resort for these people who need our help.” He goes on to say, “There are so many of us who are so blessed, and, unfortunately, there are many of us who aren’t.” The health department has no choice but to put those without proper septic on notice and AOWA goes into those communities in order to try to help.

Another feature that makes AOWA noteworthy is the association awards annual scholarships to needy students going to school. And the scholarships aren’t relegated exclusively to kids. “Mom wanting to get a nursing degree at age 40 is eligible,” Roll says, as long as she’s related to a member. In previous years, AOWA has awarded 16 scholarships to the tune of $1,000 each. With the poor economy, though, Roll says that AOWA was only able to award ten scholarships of $500 each last year.

Member benefits include group health rates for members, and AOWA offers an attorney for members and any work related issue they may have. The consultation between member and attorney is free and paid for by the association. Roll says, “This is a very important benefit to our members.”

One way AOWA funds their non-profit operation is through the exhibitors at their annual trade show. Held this year March 29 and 30 in Pelham, Alabama, Roll predicts a large turnout since they’re partnering with the heating & air and the plumbing industries to put on one huge show. Fifty exhibitors and 500 licensees will be in attendance, and licensees, who, in Alabama, are required to get CEUs every year, will be attending courses at the show.

With 400 company members, the AOWA also acquires funds through first time trainings for those wanting to get started in the onsite wastewater industry, and they also charge for all CEUs offered at the trade show and throughout the year. “Professor Alan Tartt from the University of West Alabama works pretty much exclusively for AOWA,” Roll says. Tartt designs the CEU courses so AOWA can travel around the state and offer them throughout the year.

For more information visit or call 334.396.3434.

Story by Megan McClure

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