Give Yourself the Gift of Membership

Money is a precious commodity. It’s something you work hard for because of what it can buy you: food, a home, piece of mind, retirement, gifts for your family, and maybe a nice new sports car, boat, or vacation if your lucky. So, why should you spend it on association dues?

The bottom line—your local association can help you get more of it. Associations are a great way to stay involved in your profession. They will keep you up-to-date on important laws and regulations affecting you and your business.

They are also a great way to meet others in your business. These peers can help you grow your business through shared knowledge and referrals.

You will gain industry knowledge through your local association. Staying on top of the latest innovations can help you become the leader of the pack and stand out among the competition. It can also potentially save you money with the latest industry innovations.

At Iowa Onsite Waste Water Association, the leaders strive to bring all of these components to their members: installers, manufacturers, regulators, maintenance providers, and others such as engineers and soil scientists.

Iowa is lucky that it does have a state code, but that code can be interpreted differently in each of the 99 counties.

“I evaluate soil,” says Charles Schmidt from VSP Engineering, and president of IOWWA. “It’s common in my county to have an engineering firm evaluate the soil, do the site layout, and system design. However, some counties allow the installer to perform a percolation test and take the results to their county person who will tell them what to put in. So, despite the state code, we still have a variety of ways things are implemented.”

According to Schmidt, Iowa is greatly influenced by Minnesota’s onsite program. “They don’t want poop in their lakes. They have homes on lakeshore property and want a well-designed system to keep the lakes free of nitrogen and algae. Those folks teach most of our classes and influence what we do. Our priority is education and Minnesota has excellent instructors.”

IOWWA hosts a lot of workshops on a variety of topics throughout the year and during their annual conference. “Our classes cover anything from soil to proprietary magic boxes to secondary treatment systems that we conduct around the state. Most of our classes are geared toward the contractors because they have the most complicated job.”

Like many associations, IOWWA hosts an annual conference where many of these guys can obtain their training. “Not many people are digging in January, so it’s a great time to get all of your CEUs within a couple of days.”

This year’s conference is January 9. “It’s pretty fun. We have a lot of goofy things that we do, and we have raffles, auctions and the Roe D Hoe competition.”

Currently, only 10 of the 99 counties in Iowa require installers to be certified, but Schmidt feels that more counties are heading in that direction. “Right now, we have a two and a half day class and a contract with National Environmental Health Association. The counties that require the certification have enacted it
in the last 18 months.”

“Most of the installers that got certified are glad they did,” says Schmidt. “It’s been pretty common for people to call a friend or neighbor with a backhoe to install a system. But, we are in the process of getting rid of those systems that were put in without permits. Our state started a time-of-sale program three years ago. It requires the septic system to be upgraded at the time the property sells unless it is going from family member to family member. This is also taking care of those straight pipe to ditch systems.”

IOWWA’s primary goal is always education. “We strive to improve the content, quality, and opportunity,” says Schmidt. “Instead of having 10 workshops in Des Moines, we are moving out to the corners to give people the opportunity to attend something close instead of having to travel.”

The association’s goal of education doesn’t end with the septic professional. “We’ve been working on homeowner education as well,” says Schmidt. “If you’ve never been on a septic system before, you don’t really care about it until it breaks. So, we are developing a homeowner folder that has educational documents in it that septic professionals can hand out to their customers.”

But as a NOWRA member, IOWWA also knows the importance of networking. “We have a lot of relationships with different folks and are working on developing them with the Department of Natural Resources who writes our code. We have a good relationship with them and the main guy is going to be our speaker at the annual conference. He’s a good guy and a smart fella. He knows what he’s doing.” They are also working on their relationship with IHA, an association for regulators.

Whether your goal is staying on top of the latest industry changes, learning from peers, or hearing about the latest regulations, membership with IOWWA and other state associations brings you a wealth of knowledge as well as discounts, leads, and other benefits for you and your company.

For more information, visit or call 515-225-1051.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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