GOWA Takes a Different Perspective on Association Management

About nine years ago, GOWA brought in Bruce and Ashley Widener to represent GOWA interests with the Georgia Legislature. The couple has almost 60 combined years of lobbying experience. “We bring a different perspective on association management,” says Bruce. “We lobby the state to try and get legislation passed that will help our members, and to kill legislation that is harmful. For example, one county in Georgia raised their fee for dumping septage from $40 to $400 in just one year. That is the kind of thing we are trying to fight.”

Bruce spent two years in the Georgia House of Representatives before returning to lobbying for various construction interests. Ashley has served on the Fulton County School Board and has been a lobbyist for 17 years. This year, the couple took on an issue that plagues septic pumpers in Georgia: where to dump septage.

The issue has been in flux for years with many cities and counties taking a NIMBY (not in my backyard) stance. To combat that, GOWA was instrumental in getting a bill introduced to put the matter into the hands of the Department of Natural Resources. However, various rules and regulations made it too expensive to build. Now, they are back to looking at private industry to solve the problem. The association was successful in getting Senator Lindsey Tippens to sponsor SB 467 to address the issue. Unfortunately, the bill is not going to be considered by the legislative committee. So, Bruce is meeting with interested parties to determine a solution. “Right now the rules are too onerous,” says Bruce.

The Widener’s are also looking at the land application rules that are set to go into effect this year. “We would like to delay the rules a year,” says Bruce. “The rules could effectively put everyone out of business because they are too expensive to implement.”

“We are also looking at regulations that require a land owner with a septic tank to hook up to a sewer line,” said Bruce. “That shouldn’t happen. Environmentally, a septic tank is better. The EPA recognizes that. It also costs less than hooking up to a sewer line and paying the monthly fees.”

In addition to GOWA’s legislative work, the association also hosts an annual trade show. “We have actual demonstrations where we show drain fields and you can see how the process works,” says Bruce. “It’s also a great opportunity to see new products.” This year’s show will be held at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta on August 24 and 25.

Between the demonstrations and all of the activities that Stone Mountain has to offer, it is sure to be fun. If you want to camp, GOWA members will receive an $8 per night discount. With tent, pop-up trailer, full hook-up and hotel options available, it is sure to fit any budget and level of camping comfort. Conference attendees may also stay at one of the two hotels in the park.

Of course, those in the septic business can’t overlook their continuing education hours either if they want to keep their certifications. GOWA offers these courses at a discount for members and are full-price for non-members. Non-members may find that with GOWA’s inexpensive annual dues that it is worth it to sign up as a member and get the discounted rate.

GOWA’s quarterly newsletter is a great way to stay informed about state-wide rules and regulations.By joining GOWA, onsite wastewater professionals gain help from a community of experts to help them in their business.

For more information on GOWA and how you can become a member, please visit their website at http://www.onsitewastewater.org/.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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