Top 3 Benefits of State Association Membership

Top 3 Benefits of State Association Membership
The Oregon Onsite Wastewater Association put up this Got Septic? billboard to increase association membership.

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Education. Legislative advocacy. Group discounts. All benefits of belonging to a state onsite/wastewater association, but they’re just a start. The list doesn’t end there. 

Membership in organizations such as the Oregon Onsite Wastewater Association keeps you connected to a community of professionals and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among private industry professionals, government policymakers and regulators. 

As an added benefit, members receive discounts to conferences and training sessions and, along with family members, can be eligible for scholarships. At the end of the day, you also might be richer for the experience. Take it from those in the know: 

1. Networking

“Because we have multiple disciplines that service the industry, you’ll have an installer that gets to personally know a soil scientist and the regulator in the county that oversees the permitting,” says Belinda Rasmussen, executive secretary for O2WA. “They get to know the operations and maintenance provider. It’s a big community. That’s what I love about associations. It’s a world within the world.” 

2. Education

In times of need, associations support their communities, as well as each other. “The association helps educate the public and directs them to our members for potential services,” Rasmussen says. “We’ve done billboard advertising (Got Septic?) along the Oregon coast and got a lot of website hits because of that. We want to drive business (through the searchable website) and educate our members about how to promote themselves.” 

In Alabama, members of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association can earn continuing education units online. “Some folks don’t like to travel so they can go online and get their education,” says Dave Roll, executive director. 

3. Industry advocacy

Members of the Granite State Designers and Installers Association receive weekly legislative updates from an outside government relations group, says Matt Gatzke, program administrator for the New Hampshire association. 

“We’re kind of the eyes and ears of the industry in the state, working with the primary regulator body that covers septic systems,” he says. “We work cooperatively with them — sometimes it’s helping form ad-hoc committees to review rules before they become adopted or work on tweaks to a law.” 

Added perks

A perk of joining the Kansas Small Flows Association is automatic enrollment in NOWRA, says Jessi Wood, KSFA president and vice president of operations for Residential Sewage Treatment Co. in Grandview, Mo. “We believe in the importance of our state and national associations and have asked all of our employees to join a committee,” Wood says. 

Now the dollars and cents: What is membership in a state association really worth? On average, association members earn $10,000 a year more than nonmembers, says Eric Casey, NOWRA executive director, citing a study conducted by the William E. Smith Institute for Association Research. 

“Does this mean that by joining NOWRA or a state-level organization that you will automatically make more money? Of course not,” Casey says. “But, as the old adage goes, ‘success breeds success.’ ” 

How has being a member of a state association benefitted you personally and professionally? Post a comment below or email me at


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