Nowra Educates Congress about Onsite Benefits

The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) hosted more than 25 Congress members and their staff on Capitol Hill to educate Congress about the important role the industry plays in wastewater treatment.

Rep. Robert Gibbs (R-OH), chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sponsored NOWRA’s event. His subcommittee writes virtually all of the legislation related to the Clean Water Act implementation by EPA and played a key role in the recent passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act which was recently signed by President Obama.

“This event was an important first step in our efforts to get more support from Washington for our industry,” said Bob Himschoot, chair of NOWRA’s Legislative Committee and the Lobbying Board of Governors. “We have a terrific story to tell, and one which crosses party lines, as wastewater treatment affects all Americans. We are very appreciative of the support from Representative Gibbs and we look forward to working with him, his office staff and his committee in taking steps to ensure that the onsite/decentralized industry receives more favorable treatment.”

NOWRA’s key messages were:
• Onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment protects the public health while offering users a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to centralized sewage treatment.
• Our industry is an important part of the U.S. wastewater infrastructure. It provides wastewater treatment for 25 percent of the U.S.–more than 60 million people–processing more than 4 billion gallons of water per day while supporting 150,000 jobs and contributing more than $5 billion per year to the economy.
• Taxpayers who are served by onsite/decentralized systems are not well-served by Congress, the EPA or other federal agencies, as virtually all federal funding goes to centralized sewer and federal policies and technical support are heavily skewed in favor of centralized sewage treatment.

“We made a great deal of progress with this visit to Washington,” said NOWRA President Tom Fritts. “We were pleasantly surprised by the warm reception we received in many quarters. We were also appreciative of the thoughtful and perceptive questions posed to us by many of those we visited and the fact that so many agreed that the current lack of support for our industry is unfair. It is clear to me that as we continue to reach out to more members, we are likely to continue to receive a sympathetic reception to our objectives.

While in Washington, a few NOWRA members visited several Senate and House offices to help bring awareness to the industry.

“I met with my Congressman Rob Wittman of the First Congressional District of Virginia the morning of our exhibit,” says Bob Mayer, American Manufacturing Company, Elkwood, Va. “Rob has degrees in Biology, Public Health policy and a PhD in Public Policy. He has years of experience with the Virginia Department of Health dealing with Chesapeake Bay issues and is currently working extensively with water issues. Rob is very familiar with our onsite wastewater infrastructure issues and has asked to be kept informed in the event he can help with anything. He suggests we work within existing funding streams and we should be able to get some share of appropriated funds for the industry. Visit his web site and see his interests in environmental issues.”

“We met with Jared Dilley, Legislative Director for Congressman Jim Jordan’s office, 4th District of Ohio,” says Greg Graves, Scott Hetrick, Norweco, Norwalk, Ohio. “Congressman Jordan was called away at the last minute to Chair a Committee Meeting. Mr. Dilley was quite attentive and courteous. He had not heard of NOWRA before, but is familiar with onsite wastewater treatment systems. He appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the industry, and said he would be interested in further information in the future.”

“It is critically important to engage as many NOWRA members as possible in our efforts,” says Fritts. “We need more of our members to step up, reach out to their Senators and members of Congress, and share our great story. We need to have a presence at all levels–in Washington (where our lobbyist Tommy Cassidy will play the lead role), in state capitals and in the local offices of both members of Congress as well as state legislators. We recognize that whatever success we have at the federal level needs to be matched at the state level to ensure that those successes translate into increased support for our industry at the local level.”

For those interested in advocating for the onsite industry, NOWRA will be hosting a lobbying workshop at its upcoming annual conference, held jointly with Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater November 9-12, 2014 in Denver. Participants who attend this session will get a better idea as to what they can do to help support this effort.

For more information about how to become involved in NOWRA’s lobbying efforts, please call Executive Director Eric Casey at 800-966-2942 or email him at

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