Mission Education

With the recent regulations sweeping across Maryland, education is the main goal for the Maryland Onsite Wastewater Professional Association (MOWPA), an affiliate with the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association.

“Maryland is changing a lot,” says Dwayne Jones, vice president of MOWPA. “We are working to inform our members on the changes as well as redevelop our classes as needed. For example, we are adding the BAT information (best available technology—tech that is approved through the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) for nitrogen removal). We try to keep up with MDE and their requirements to keep our members up-to-date on their certifications and meet the requirements.

“The idea is to remove nitrogen from effluent before it enters the ground. Nitrogen from septic systems can migrate to the Chesapeake Bay so the plan is to reduce nitrogen with BAT systems. BAT approved technology is now required on all new homes, anything that changes the existing flow, and any repairs that are done in the critical area, which is 1,000 feet within tidal waters.”

MDE has field tested and approved the use of several systems: Hoot BNR by Hoot Aerobic Systems, Advantex-AX by Orenco Systems, Singulair TNT by Norweco, SeptTech, and SeptiTech by SeptiTech.

MDE is currently field testing more systems to possibly be approved for BAT: Bioclere by Aquapoint, AA500-35NR and AS600+4NR with EZ top by Ecological Tanks, Amphidrome by F.R. Mahony & Associates, RetroFAST by Bio-Microbics, Hoot ANR by Hoot Aerobic Systems, Hoot-H by Hoot Aerobic Systems, Nitrex by Lombardo Associates, and Advantex-RT by Orenco Systems.

The current criteria for selection is 75th percentile of effluent TN concentration should be 20 mg/l or less, and 75th percentile of TN percent reductions should be 50 percent or greater. MDE’s research shows that there are 420,000 septic systems in MD with 52,000 in critical areas. More than 4,000 have been upgraded with Bay Restoration Funds.

These regulations affect MOWPA’s 172 members as well as others in the onsite industry in MD. “We are in the process of updating the classes to reflect all of the changes,” says Jones. “We offer 11 different classes targeted to each section of our membership: designers, installers, septic haulers, and regulators. We try to help them by offering a variety of education on operation and maintenance, inspection for property transfer, and soil classes for the designers. We also offer pumping classes for getting certified through the Bay Restoration Program.”

Communication

Keeping MOWPA members informed on new legislation and other information is a high priority, and they accomplish it through quarterly newsletters, email blasts, socials, and an annual conference. “We just started having these socials as a way to get together and keep everyone informed with what is going on along with the newsletter,” says Jones.

“We also put together our annual conference, which featured several speakers to inform us on various aspects of the industry. Attendance was high, and I think it’s because we raised the bar with the quality of speakers this past year. We also had a lot of vendor participation.

“One speaker talked about how storm water and septic will need to work together because plots of land will become more crowded as the new storm water regulations roll out, which will require some underground facilities.

“Another speaker talked about how pharmaceuticals affect the ground water as well as the difference in the discharge between septic and treatment plants. The treatment plants are dumping directly into streams so with septic, there is a better chance of the pharmaceuticals getting filtered through the soils before it reaches the groundwater.

“The Maryland Department of Environment spoke about the new regulations to educate attendees and answer all of their questions, a lot of which centered around the new licensing and certification requirements. They were able to answer everyone’s questions, which helped ease a lot of the installers who weren’t sure how the new rules would affect their business.”

Educating Legislators

With all of the past and upcoming changes in the legislature affecting the onsite community, MOWPA has worked with various groups to make their voice stronger with the legislators. Two board members, Dave Duree and Nancy Mayer, have taken on the role of a legislative committee to spearhead their efforts.
“Everyone pitches in when it’s time to go testify or when Dave or Nancy aren’t available. We talk to legislators to gain support of our industry and give our members’ point of view. We attend legislative sessions and testify when needed. Our involvement keeps us up-to-date on any code or policy changes in the works so that we can inform the rest of the membership.”

These changes are wide reaching and affect not only Maryland, but also the other states that are required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Bay watershed jurisdictions to meet the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load pollution diet. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia are all affected.

The all-volunteer board of directors are hard at work continuing their mission to educate the membership so that they can all adapt to the changing landscape of the onsite industry in Maryland.

For more information on how you can become a member, visit www.mowpa.org.

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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