Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater

Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater (CPOW) provides a voice for all septic system professionals with the Colorado Legislature as well as training opportunities to more than 2,000 professionals in the wastewater business in Colorado.


As with many industries, new laws and regulations affect how people do their jobs. While it’s nice to have a voice in those decisions, most small business owners don’t have the luxury of staying on top of issues and contacting their congressmen. CPOW gives you that voice by lobbying on behalf of the onsite wastewater industry.

This year, CPOW worked with several legislators to update language and the governor signed HB 12-1126 on April 26.

“New grease regulations went into effect in March which make it hard on rural communities,” says Kate Carney, past president of CPOW. “Pumpers now have to pump and handle commercially-generated grease, such as grease from restaurant grease traps, separate from domestic and commercial septic tank septage. Pumpers now need a license to pump and haul grease. In addition, any pumper who accumulates or stores waste grease for more than 21 consecutive days, will need to get a license to become a storage facility. Many of our pumpers have stopped pumping grease as a result, which has put rural restaurants at a disadvantage.”
Stakeholders, including members from the Colorado Directors of Environmental Health, continue to work with the Colorado Water Quality Control Division to revise and improve the onsite wastewater regulations (Water Quality Control Commission Regulation 43). The CPOW Board and CPOW members are actively engaged in the regulation revision process.


Installing septic systems in a mountainous region can offer challenges. Rather than excavating traditional soil, Colorado septic professionals usually excavate or blast through bedrock.

Working with explosives in a beautiful state with gorgeous mountains, breathtaking views, and an assortment of ski resorts can be challenging.

Another challenge is the slow percolating clay soil in eastern Colorado, resulting in the need for a modified drainfield to spread effluent over a larger area.
To meet these unique challenges, CPOW offers a myriad of training opportunities to more than 100 members and thousands of nonmembers, which include health department regulators, engineers, installers, service providers, and manufacturers.

“We strive to find relevant education for the different sectors of our membership,” says Carney. “We offer NAWT training, inspector, operations, maintenance, and installer certification courses, vacuum truck technician courses, and others.”

CPOW also recently brought in soil characterization training. “The different sectors got different things out of it. Installers were taught that if there was a different soil situation than what had been reported to inform the designer and use that knowledge to troubleshoot problems.

Certain counties require service providers to be NAWT certified (which CPOW provides) or to take a county test and be licensed.

Most of the training is conducted in the Denver area. However, if there is enough demand, they will travel for training.

Annual Conference

CPOW will host their annual conference January 17-18 at the PPA Event Center in Denver. It offers different tracks of classes across a wide section of the industry. Attendees can learn about proper installation of pipe, state regulations, and much more.

Professor Emeritius Ted Louden from Michigan State University will give the keynote address. Dr. Loudon is an engineer who specializes in the onsite wastewater industry. His speech is likely to cover alternative onsite wastewater treatment systems throughout the world, how to utilize available, low-cost equipment to get the job done, and how shallow OWTS still function while enduring cold winter temperatures.”

Roy Laws, current president of CPOW, and Kent Hubble with Spears Manufacturing, are among some of the speakers.

CPOW also holds the Roe-D-Hoe event to test your skills on a backhoe, and presents the awards on the second day of the conference. State champions are able to skip the first qualifying round at the national competition to compete for a $1,000 prize and a commemorative belt buckle. National second and third place finishers also receive cash prizes.


CPOW recently updated their website to include information that members can share to educate homeowners. It also features regulation updates, training opportunities, and a directory of professionals. The site provides a list of septic regulation contacts for various city, county, and state health departments.

“By becoming a CPOW member, you are showing an involvement in the industry and a higher level of knowledge because of the education and training that you have available to you. Also you have the knowledge of what’s going on in regulatory world and are aware of things that will affect your business and have a group representing you for those regulatory changes.”

The cost of a CPOW membership is $90. Members also automatically become members of NOWRA.

To learn more about CPOW, please visit

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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