Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association

Peter Drucker said, “Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.”

The Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association (MOWA) takes that to heart and believes that access to information is what sets their members apart. “We provide our members with cutting edge information from educators and the regulating authority,” says Pat Martyn, executive director of MOWA. “They also glean invaluable information from networking with one another, which allows members to find solutions to business problems and business opportunities. One operator may not have faced a particular problem, but someone else has, and can provide their expertise. It’s better for the consumer and better for our members to have that network.”

Their network includes hundreds of businesses, representing approximately 1,000 people in every niche of the onsite wastewater community. “Our members consist of suppliers, maintainers, installers, designers, state and local government officials, pumpers, soil scientists, educators and engineers,” says Martyn. “We’ve been around for decades and one of our goals is to improve the professionalism in the industry. A lot of people benefit from our professional approach—members of the onsite community stay up-to-date on the latest technology which also benefits homeowners. We have a good and proud history and get terrific support from our sponsors and members.

“In the last few years, we’ve made good strides in our volunteer appreciation efforts so that they have a quality experience and don’t get tired of volunteering. We also pay attention to agendas and meeting schedules to respect their time.”

MOWA has also been working on attracting young people. “We want to cultivate the younger generations by giving them leadership positions and opportunities so that we have a vibrant professional community. Last year, we had our first woman president, and our current president, Brain Koski, is under 30. They both bring different skills and knowledge to the group.”

Communication and Training

Communication and training are the tools that MOWA uses to impart the knowledge that makes its members successful.
Their primary communication tool is their conference. Held each January, the conference provides members with continuing education classes, vendor displays and national experts. “We typically have about 200 members that come each year,” says Martyn. “Members not only learn in the classroom but also from the exhibitors and each other. The University of Minnesota is there, and we also have speakers as well as national and local experts so that we can drill down on particular problems.”

MOWA also hosts a summer seminar. “We host yearly soils training,” says Martyn. “This year we are running electrical troubleshooting under our summer seminar chair Shane Steinbrecher. We are fortunate to have a good relationship with the University of Minnesota where onsite professionals take their certification and continuing education classes. They’re a good partner and we’re appreciative of our relationship with them.”

The association doesn’t stop with educating its members. Since knowledge is power, they hope to help educate the next generation through their Tony Ruppert Scholarship. Applicants must send in an essay about a topic that is related to the environment or water quality, which are then published.

Members need to keep up with changing regulations, the latest technology and best practices. To do that, MOWA employs their bi-monthly newsletter and website. “The Little Digger, a 20-page newsletter, is a great resource for members,” says Martyn. “It contains topic-related information about different issues in our profession from experts around the state. Our state regulators, whom we have a good relationship with, usually have something to contribute, and other contributors include manufacturers and scientists. Topics range from new maintenance techniques to safety information.”

MOWA also uses their professionally-designed website to keep members informed. “We think that our website is among the best in the industry,” says Martyn. Clean, visually-appealing and easy to navigate, the site is full of information to help industry professionals and consumers.

Topics of Interest

Keeping members up-to-date on topics that effect them is one of the key roles of MOWA. One of those topics is load limits. “In our state, there are load limits on the roads because of frost,” says Martyn. “It’s important that we continue to work with regulators to make sure that we aren’t damaging the road while balancing the need of the industry to move heavy machinery. We are in constant communication with those decision makers, because we don’t want heavy machinery on roads before the roads can handle the weight.

“We use our relationships with various groups to continue to stay on top of information that affects the industry, such as issues relating to groundwater.”

MOWA’s strong support of the onsite community will continue to propel the industry forward and position them as professionals with professional standards and professional pay.

For more information, visit www.mowa-mn.com

Story by Jennifer Taylor

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