Meet the Speakers 2021

The AOWMA has the opportunity to bring training and education to your living room.  Our annual convention promises to provide interesting and topical speakers, great technical sessions, and informative workshops.  Do not miss your opportunity to listen, learn and network at this exciting event!

Here is a taste of what you can expect:

Chuck Ahrens

Executive Director

Washington Onsite Sewage Association (WOSSA)

Chuck Ahrens currently serves as the Executive Director for the Washington On-Site Sewage Association, where he has worked for about nine years.  Chuck has developed training programs and delivered instruction for seven safety grants        produced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Washington State Department of Labour and  industries.  Chuck also serves on and participates in numerous On-Site associations and committees.  Prior to becoming the WOSSA Executive Director, he was the architectural designer and project manager for numerous industrial and fleet-based City and County public building projects, responsible for the research and implementation of multiple codes and standards.  Chuck has a Bachelor of Architecture from North Dakota State University and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design and Sociology.

More than Just Dirty:  Pathogen Exposure to Workers in the Onsite Industry

Pathogens in wastewater have been well documented for many years, but unfortunately, on-site septic system service providers have had little information on the pathogens they are exposed to in the workplace.  Further, because of the limited resources of small business practitioners, development and implementation of appropriate workplace mitigation has been limited or non-existent.  This presentation provides an overview of specific biological hazards to workers in the On-Site Wastewater Industry.

Rick Baxter

The Inspections Group

Rick Baxter is the Lead Plumbing and Gas Safety Codes Officer with Inspections Group.

He started in the Plumbing trade 25 years ago and became an inspector in 2011. Rick volunteers in many aspects of the industry. He is currently on the Board of Directors for AOWMA and the Alberta Mechanical Officials Society. Rick is also the past-Chair of the Certification Review Committee and continues to sit on the committee as a subject matter expert.

Little Known and Misunderstood Standard of Practice Requirements

When should you dig a little deeper? When should you ask more questions?

  • Can I install an in-ground system when my loading rate is 0.20 or lower?
  • At what point do I need a soil sieve analysis for sandy soils?
  • If I am building a sand mound that is fed by a secondary treatment unit, can I reduce my sand layer depth?
  • How do I correctly count fixture units?

Rick will review some of the nuances in the Standard of Practice that change your design and installation from a ‘standard’ system, to one that requires more in-depth design knowledge and work.

Tim Callander

SJE Rhombus

Tim Callander is a Regional Manager for SJE Rhombus covering all of Canada and 9 States in the Southern USA.

He has a Technical Engineering Degree from Brown College and a Business Degree from Anoka-Ramsey College.

Tim has been married for 39 years, has 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Tim has given presentations all over North America and Europe ranging from precision measurement to Basic Electrical Theory and Controls.

The Advantages of Time Dosing with Control Panels 

This presentation will focus on setting up timed dosing with the use of control panels. Advantages of timed dosing in onsite wastewater design and operation will be reviewed.

Ernest Cremers

Cremers Safety Ltd.

Ernest Cremers is the Owner of Cremers Safety Ltd., a safety consultant organization that helps companies across Canada with safety compliance and certification, implementation and management of safety systems and safety training programs.

Ernest has been a safety consultant for 18 years and a contract instructor at the Alberta Construction Safety Association for 8 years, partnering most recently as an instructor nationally with a leading home improvement chain. He is strongly passionate about safety that makes sense, that is applicable at the jobsite level and communicating loss prevention in the area of People, Process and Property. His presentation is about reasonable information that will positively impact your business while ensuring that your bottom line in this economic climate is protected.

Always business-minded, while putting people first, Ernest believes safety is good business no matter how large or small your organization may be.

Safety – Just Good Business

This presentation will have four elements:

  • The cost of not having a safety management system in place.
  • Discussion on the disconnect of safety from the office to the field.
  • How to promote and implement a good safety culture.
  • Maintaining the Safety Management System.

David Dobson

Alberta Municipal Affairs

For more than 20 years David as been involved in all areas in the wastewater industry. Prior to being with Alberta Municipal Affairs, his experience encompassed not only industrial and municipal wastewater treatment but also in the challenging backdrops of remote work camps and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Since 2013, David has resided in Grande Prairie, Alberta where his wife and four children enjoy camping in the secluded wilderness.

Work Camp Meeting

Dave will convene the annual meeting for those designing, installing, and maintaining temporary onsite wastewater systems in work camps and at rig sites.


  • Presentation – Introduce final version of Work Camp Guidance Document.
  • Questions on Document.
  • Discussion on issues from the work camp industry.

Work Camp Meeting

Dave Gustafson, P Eng

University of Minnesota

Dave Gustafson has run the University of Minnesota On-site Sewage Treatment program for the past 20 years. He is a practicing Professional Engineer licensed in the state of Minnesota. As a private consultant he regularly designs, inspects and troubleshoots systems. He has been recognized as one of the premier on-site instructors due to his ability to combine his on the job experiences with the operating theories behind wastewater treatment systems in his presentations.

Installing Advanced Media Technology

What does the installer need to know about the different technologies that can be utilized to treat the effluent prior to being sent to the final dispersal area?  By understanding how these technologies function and their objectives will help the installer ensure his installation is correct.  The differing fundamentals for ATUs, media filters, and soil replacement systems will all be discussed.

Taking Care of Alberta While Applying Septage Through Landspreading

Dave will take a deeper look understanding the critical factors to properly land apply solid to help create an environmentally friendly and affordable option.  The loss of the ability to land spread would create management issues that as an Industry need to be understood.

What are the Soils Telling Us?

This session will take the information learned from previous training sessions and discuss how to effectively apply it.  More complex ideas will be discussed in detail.  How to interpret the soils with your hands, understanding the plastic limit in the soil, how to run a correct and effective percolation test for supporting information and how to assess percentage of coarse fragments will be covered.  In addition, understanding what elevations mean and how to measure and apply them correctly will also be discussed.

Charles Hallett

Alberta Safety Codes Authority

Charles has a Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Health from the University College of Cape Breton. Charles has worked in both the private and public sectors as an Environmental Health Officer with certifications as a Public Health Inspector and a Plumbing Group B Safety Codes Officer. Charles recently joined the Safety Codes Council as the Director of the Alberta Safety Codes Authority (ASCA), which is responsible for providing safety codes services, including inspection and permitting services, in unaccredited municipalities throughout the province.

Introducing the New Private Sewage Sub-council

The Safety Codes Council is convening a new Private Sewage Sub-council comprised of subject matter experts in the onsite wastewater industry.  Previously, there was a single representative for private sewage on the Plumbing Technical Review Sub-council, however in recognition that private sewage is a unique discipline, the Safety Codes Council has determined it needs its own Sub-council.

The role of the Sub-councils is to review changes to regulatory and technical requirements within the Province and provide feedback to regulatory authorities about proposed changes.

Valerie Jenkinson

Operators Without Borders

A recognized leader in her field, Valerie Jenkinson graduated as overall top student from her University of British Columbia class and has twice been nominated as Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.

Her company, World Water and Wastewater Solutions LTD. (WWWS) has been active in the water and wastewater industry for the last 12 years and specializes in capacity building.

Valerie is a specialist in Integrated Water Resource (IWRM) and Effective Utility Management (EUM) which is the industry Best Practices developed by the American Waterworks Association (AWWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Public Works Association (PWA) . Valerie has worked and presented on these subjects globally, including the UK the USA Africa, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. She has lectured at the University of British Columbia and the BC Institute of Technology.

For the last 12 years Valerie has worked for approximately six months a year in the Caribbean, headquartered in St Lucia. She has worked with all the local Associations and last year was named Focal Point of the Year for Global Water Partners- Caribbean, She is an invited guest annually to the High Level Forum for Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water, sanitation and waste.

Operators Without Borders – Providing Wastewater Support in Disaster Zones

 In 2017 Valerie founded Operators Without Borders in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean Region. The organization has evolved into a Registered Canadian Charity has over 60 utility operators who volunteer in assisting utilities affected by disasters to reinstate service to their customers. In addition, the volunteers work in the Caribbean to mentor and train their utility peers.

Valerie is extremely active in the community. She was appointed by the Minister of Health to the Board of the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons, was appointed to the Vancouver Economic Development Council, Chairs the Together We Can Foundation – Together We Can being one of the largest drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation centres in Vancouver. She sat on the Board of Directors for the Virtual School Society of BC, which is responsible to the Ministry of Education for the on-line courses and tutoring programmes for all primary and secondary schools in BC, and taught a community volunteer programme at UBC.

She is the founder and Chair of 100 Women Who Care St Lucia.

Ben Kele

Arris Pty Ltd.

Ben is an on-site wastewater practitioner from Australia who specialises in difficult to treat wastewater. Ben started in academia but has successfully commercialised his research and his company Arris designs, builds, operates and maintains decentralised wastewater treatment and water recycling facilities. Ben’s motto is that any splash you don’t taste is a good splash.

On-Site Wastewater Treatment Research & Development in Australia

This presentation will focus on some Australian on-site wastewater treatment and dispersal case studies from sites that needed non-standard solutions. Examples will include Australian versions of pressurised mound dispersal systems, Eco-tourism, music festival venues, and a no-release (contained) dispersal technique.

Jim King

Eljen Corporation

Jim King is the President for Eljen Corporation. He finished his engineering degree at the University of Connecticut and joined the military. Mr. King was a Captain in the US Army, serving two tours in Iraq. After his military career, he returned to Connecticut where he finished his MBA at the University of Connecticut and found a home at Eljen. During his time at Eljen, Jim brought the company to new regions around the world by working with the local and state health departments. His work at Eljen focuses new technologies innovation and development. Based in East Hartford, CT, Eljen produces units which are installed throughout the world. They are currently celebrating over 40 years of innovation and success and look forward to being a part of your future septic projects.

Brewing in Wastewater

This presentation focuses on the methods used to design a septic system for the varying waste strength from different brewing operations. The presenter will examine the concerns attached with specific results (BOD, TSS, Nitrogen, pH, etc.) from testing and where these concerns arise in the brewing process. The environmental impact of each identified result will be examined, specifically focusing on disposal concerns. The presentation will end with a discussion on methods used to manage the wastewater and will include an examination of treatment options, standards that exist to address the concerns of the industry and considerations on pump and haul.

A Study on BOD5

This presentation is a study of various common household waste and what is the corresponding BOD strength. We will compare 15 to twenty household items to include, soda, coffee, juice, ice cream and other easily liquefied material. The current list: Coke Soda , Mountain Dew Soda , Red Bull Soda , Budweiser Light Beer , Tree House Haze Beer, 2% Milk , Light Cream, Orange Juice , Wine , Ice Cream , Oil, Coffee Black, Coffee with Cream and Sugar. The goal is to use items that are found thought the US so this test can be duplicated anywhere. Further research will investigate the impact on the use of these items on a daily basis.

Jason Mank

Ontario Clean Water Agency

Jason Mank currently works for the Ontario Clean Water Agency in the Region of Waterloo, where he oversees Operations and Maintenance at six facilities. He completed a three year environmental technology course gaining his Environment Technologist Diploma. He also holds a ticket as a Red Seal Interprovincial Industrial Mechanic Millwright.

Jason was one of the first operators to step up and volunteer for Operators Without Borders. He was deployed to our first disaster assignment in Dominica and then led a team in response to Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. He also sits on the Deployment Committee.

Jason is also the Spring Director for a non-profit football association within the Region of Waterloo.

Ian Mcilwham

Chair, Canada’s National Infrastructure Working Group

Ian Mcilwham is the current Chair for Canada’s National Critical Infrastructure Working Group and the Canadian Mirror Committee Chair for ISO TC 224, which developed the International Standard on Crisis Management of Water Utilities (ISO 24518).

Ian has been instrumental in developing Public Works emergency and continuity programs in his position as Manager, Compliance at the Regional Municipality of Durham. He is currently leading the response to COVID-19 for Durham Region water and wastewater since an Emergency declaration on March 17, 2020. He is the current chair of the Security and Emergency Management Committee for the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) which cooperates with Public Safety Canada and other federal departments concerned with emergency preparedness and national security to actively contribute to the knowledge base and federal programs related to critical infrastructure.

Keynote – Disaster Planning – What Next? Impacts on Water and Wastewater

With COVID 19 still raging and much of the country in some degree of lockdown what might we expect in the next years? What are the implications for future disaster planning? How does this relate to other disasters? Hear from experts who wrote and contributed to many of Canada’s Disaster and Emergency Plans. What were the lessons learned from SARS, H1N1 and H5N1. What is the impact on the water and wastewater sector? Communication and structure are often the downfall of Emergency Response Plan implementation. This presentation will show how training in crisis management and the Incident Command System is a vital component of any Emergency Response Plan.

Greg Solecki is one of Canada’s leading experts in disaster and crisis management planning and implementation. He has worked on many of Canada’s largest disasters during the last 15 years.

Ian Mcilwham has the responsibility for COVID response in one of Canada’s hardest hit regions in Durham, Ontario. He has been instrumental in developing Public Works emergency and continuity programs.

Valerie Jenkinson will facilitate a panel discussion where she will be moderating contributions from Greg and Ian while fielding questions from our audience in what is sure to be a lively and informative discussion.

Dominic Mercier, Eng. M.A.Sc.

Dominic Mercier graduated from Laval University in Quebec City in Civil Engineering 20 years ago and having completed a Master Degree in Environmental Engineering from University of Windsor in Ontario , Mr. Mercier has worked mostly in Onsite Water and Wastewater Treatment.  He was involved in the development, certification and commercialization of many treatment technologies and designed several hundred septic systems for residential, commercial and communal applications.  He is the founder and president of Enviro Neptune Consulting, a small Quebec based firm doing residential and commercial septic designs. More recently he founded Enviro-STEP Technologies, a company developing and distributing simple, affordable, innovative and performing wastewater treatment technologies for the Canadian Onsite industry and is proud to introduce its products in Alberta in 2015.

Results from a study on the degradation of hygienic paper in a septic tank environment

As you probably know, one of the biggest challenges septic systems have faced in the recent years is the premature blockage from hygienic paper not degrading properly in the septic tank.  This causes back-ups in houses, premature pump-outs of tanks and consequently an important financial burden on homeowners.

The presentation will present results and observations from a study conducted in collaboration with Enviro Neptune and Fleming College where several popular brands have been tested for their capacity to degrade in a clean water and wastewater environment.  From these observations, the intention was to be able to formulate recommendations to homeowners in order for them to make better decision or simply to understand the potential impacts of the decision they make with regard to selection of toilet paper.

Daniel Morris

DS Wastewater Design

Daniel Morris – longtime Board member and Instructor for AOWMA. Daniel installed soil based treatment systems for many years and now focuses on the required designs for application of permits. Soils and designs have always piqued Daniel’s interest as each and every site unveils new and unique challenges that require thoughtful innovative solutions.

Design Workshops – Pressure Distribution, LFH At-Grades, Mounds in Coarse Soils

Daniel Morris will provide three workshops on system design for those wishing to home their skills before the installation season begins!  Bring your calculator and graph paper and work through examples, applying the prescriptive standards of the Alberta Standard of Practice.

Joe Petryk

Acting Technical Administrator

Alberta Municipal Affairs

Joe works for Alberta Municipal Affairs – Community & Technical Support – Edmonton – and is currently the Technical Administrator for the private sewage discipline regulated under the Safety Codes Act. Joe is a graduate of NAIT, obtaining a diploma in the discipline of civil engineering technology as a Certified Engineering Technologist (CET). Joe has been providing a public service for almost 40 years in various Ministries, in roles related consumer legislation and the building/development industry, with the past 18 years directly related to the private sewage industry. The private sewage industry continues to evolve on the fronts of code development, installation standards and product development and provides for a very active and interesting relationship with industry stakeholders.

Joe and his wife Gail have two children and are proud grandparents to 3 grandchildren.

Joe grew up on a farm north of Edmonton and is no stranger to waste management (relocating many an outhouse).

Updates to the Alberta Standard of Practice

A new Standard of Practice will be released in 2021.  This presentation will provide information and insight on the key changes that will be incorporated into the Standard and how they will impact system design.  Joe will also go over some of the policy and procedure changes his department has enacted in the past year.

Krista Podwin, P Eng.

Krista Podwin, P.Eng. holds a BASc. in Environmental Systems Design Engineering and a MASc. in Chemical Engineering.  Krista has worked in the Power and Potash industry in Saskatchewan where her main focus was the 3.5 MMtpy expansion at the Mosaic Belle Plaine Facility.

Krista and her husband Steven purchased a home in the West Kootenays and moved their family in May 2015. In the fall of 2017, after training in septic planning and design, Krista and Steven formed KSP Septic Inc.  KSP Septic Inc. is focused on providing clients with the approvals, plans, designs, and project management necessary for their septic system requirements while producing innovative, cost effective and environmentally responsible solutions. KSP Septic has worked on a number of challenging sewerage system sites throughout the Kootenays and enjoys collaborating and problem solving with our fellow colleagues.

Sewage System Design Considerations for the Cannabis Industry

The legalization of cannabis in Canada in October 2018 has resulted in an emerging sector within British Columbia of commercial production and manufacturing of cannabis for the recreational market.  This session will focus on how the regulations relate to this industry, identify critical elements for a design basis, and considerations of treatment options for cannabis facilities.  A cannabis industry declaration form example will be presented, and daily design flow calculations will be discussed.

Barry Rumsey, ROWP IN PL MP

BioHarmony Inc.

Building Wastewater Infrastructure in Haiti Through Heart for Home

Heart for Home Haiti is a Canadian Non-Profit Christian Based Organization that supports the concept of building and creating a “College” that takes in young men and women (17 or 18 years of age) that have outgrown the orphanages in Haiti.  The College is to provide a transition environment from the orphanage lifestyle to being able to survive and thrive in the Haitian General Population.

The “College” is to teach the men and women different trades, business skills and money management tools.  Compared to North America, this college is extremely basic in what is teaches.

Heart for Home has been active for about 12 years with numerous Professionals, trades people and general interest groups coming together and providing knowledge, work skills, education and other information that empowers the Haitians in their future destiny.  This is the story of one of those processes, of the first sewage system being designed and installed on the campus.

In 1995 Barry became a dealer for the Biocycle systems where he completed planning, installations, maintenance/servicing and warranty work in extremely environmentally sensitive areas (or what would have been classified as non-buildable areas). He is a certified ROWP with planning, installing and maintenance provider credentials for type 1,2 and 3 systems as well as completing EOCP courses for maintenance of commercial systems. In 2000, Barry started BioHarmony Inc., the parent company and manufacturer of the Biocycle Aerated Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Biocycle system is designed to treat all household wastewater right on site, in a four-chamber, fully self-contained system. Barry has donated his time designing and installing sewer systems in Haiti.

Danny Stoesz

Manager, Compliance Programs

Alberta Municipal Affairs

Danny is the manager of Compliance Programs for Alberta Municipal Affairs, and has been with Alberta Municipal Affairs (AMA) for 9 years. Initially Danny joined AMA as a technical advisor in the plumbing, gas and private sewage disciplines. In 2013 he transitioned to Compliance and Assurance, where he oversaw the contract management of inspection agencies along with their transition to ASCA (Alberta Safety Codes Authority), and helped develop the administrative penalties program. Before Danny joined Municipal Affairs he was a journeyman plumber/gasfitter and owned/operated his own plumbing and heating business for over 8 years.

Outside of work Danny is happily married to his wife Susan and has two teenage boys named Trouble and More Trouble, but they also respond to Carsyn and Dustyn. When COVID is not dictating our activities we like to travel and enjoy outdoor activities like backpacking, hockey, softball, and obstacle course racing with coworkers.

Administrative Penalties – Who, What, Where, When?

As the Manager, Compliance Programs for Alberta Municipal Affairs, Danny is responsible for administering or recommending administrative penalties for infractions.  What does this mean for our contracting community?  What are administrative penalties? Who can file a report that might result in an administrative penalty?  Where and how are complaints or reports filed?  When might an administrative penalty be considered appropriate?

These questions and more will be the focus of this presentation.

Greg Solecki

Greg Solecki is one of Canada’s leading experts in disaster and crisis management. He is an internationally Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) who has been instrumental in the development of international crisis management standards (ISO 22301, ISO 24518, CSA1600), as well as contributing to the development of Canada’s Critical Infrastructure Pandemic Plan as the Water Sector Chair. He has been a guest lecturer at Harvard on crisis management.

With practical experience during SARS, H1N1, H5N1 and President of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Canada, he was sought out as a contributing member for the United Nations office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Global Education & Training Institute (GETI).

Greg is also an experienced facilitator and Incident Command System (ICS) 400 instructor for both ICS Canada and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that has worked with every level of response managing Emergency Operation Centre’s during 6 States of Local Emergency, leading to his attendance at Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI).

Keynote – Disaster Planning – What Next? Impacts on Water and Wastewater

With COVID 19 still raging and much of the country in some degree of lockdown what might we expect in the next years? What are the implications for future disaster planning? How does this relate to other disasters? Hear from experts who wrote and contributed to many of Canada’s Disaster and Emergency Plans. What were the lessons learned from SARS, H1N1 and H5N1. What is the impact on the water and wastewater sector? Communication and structure are often the downfall of Emergency Response Plan implementation. This presentation will show how training in crisis management and the Incident Command System is a vital component of any Emergency Response Plan.

Greg Solecki is one of Canada’s leading experts in disaster and crisis management planning and implementation. He has worked on many of Canada’s largest disasters during the last 15 years.

Ian Mcilwham has the responsibility for COVID response in one of Canada’s hardest hit regions in Durham, Ontario. He has been instrumental in developing Public Works emergency and continuity programs.

Valerie Jenkinson will facilitate a panel discussion where she will be moderating contributions from Greg and Ian while fielding questions from our audience in what is sure to be a lively and informative discussion.

Daily Live Chats and Round Tables

Bring your questions and stories to the open forum discussions that will be held at the end of each day during the virtual conference.

Workshops and Meetings

Participate in design workshops and attend industry meetings during the event.

Ready to register?