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NOWRA Educational Event on Capitol Hill

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Rep. Bob Gibbs, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment (center, facing camera) discusses onsite with (from left) Tommy Cassidy, NOWRA's Chief Lobbyist, Bob Mayer of American Manufacturing, and Bob Himschoot, Chairman of NOWRA's Government Affairs CommitteeNOWRA members from around the country gathered in Washington near the end of July to take part in the association’s first ever Capitol Hill advocacy event – an educational trade fair intended to help Members of Congress and their staffs better understand the many benefits of onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment and to highlight the lack of support our industry receives from Congress and federal regulatory agencies.
The educational event, which was held July 30 in a Transportation and Infrastructure NOWRA President Tom Fritts with Christina Mahoney, Senior Legislative Associate for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, drew more than two dozen individuals, including Members of Congress, staff from congressional offices, and staff members who work for key congressional committees and subcommittees with oversight of water industry issues. NOWRA members had the opportunity to speak at length with attendees and answer their questions about our industry.
Rep. Robert (Bob) Gibbs (R-OH), sponsored NOWRA’s event on Capitol Hill. Mr. Gibbs is the Chairman of the Water Resources and the Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 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. His office worked closely with the association to coordinate invitations to other committee members and staff.
In addition to the educational trade fair, the NOWRA members who came to Washington also visited numerous Congressional offices on both the House and Senate sides. These personal visits were also highly effective – Members of Congress always pay attention to constituents who take the time to visit their offices in Washington or in their local districts. To get a better idea as to the outcomes of those visits, click here.
NOWRA’s messages to Members of Congress were simple and straightforward:

1.        Onsite/decentralized wastewater treatment protects the public health while offering users a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to centralized sewage treatment.

2.       Our industry is an important part of the US wastewater infrastructure. It provides wastewater treatment for 25% of the US – 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.
3.       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
“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.”

“We made a great deal of progress with this visit to Washington,” agreed Tom Fritts, NOWRA’s President. “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.
“It is critically important to engage as many NOWRA members as possible in our efforts. We need more of our members to step up, reach out to their Senators and Member 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 leve
l needs to be matched at the state level to ensure that those successes translate into increased support for our industry at the local level.”
To that end, NOWRA will be
hosting a lobbying workshop at its upcoming Annual Conference, being held jointly with CPOW – Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater – November 9-12, 2014 in Denver. We encourage everyone with an interest in effective advocacy for our industry, both state onsite organizations as well as interested individuals to attend this session to get a better idea as to what you can do to help support this effort.
For more information about how you can become involved in NOWRA’s lobbying efforts, please call Executive Director Eric Casey at 800-966-2942 or email him at