Re-Write of

Michigan Criteria for Onsite Wastewater Treatment

Public Comments Welcome


During 2011 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality resurrected its efforts to re-write and update the “Michigan Criteria”, a set of guidelines for the design and approval of larger onsite wastewater treatment systems serving commercial and cluster residential developments.  These guidelines were originally developed back in the 1970’s, and had never been updated to address the application of technology and management programs available today.


MOWRA was represented on the task group formed to help DEQ with this process by Larry Stephens and Ron Lindsay.  Dr. Ted Loudon was also on the task group representing MSU; and we know that Ted has always been very actively involved in MOWRA, and served a term as President of NOWRA, our national affiliate.


The MDEQ has now authorized the distribution of the latest draft of this re-written set of guidelines for comment by the public.  MOWRA is posting this latest draft on our website for your review and comment.  We strongly encourage all MOWRA members and friends to review this proposed document in detail, and pass along any comments or questions you may have to Ric Falardeau at the MDEQ, or to Larry or Ron for transmittal to the task group and DEQ.


The next steps by the MDEQ will be to evaluate what changes will be necessary to the Part 22 Groundwater Permit Rules to officially implement these updates / revisions.  The current Michigan Criteria are referred to in the current Part 22 Rules, giving them a lot of authority. 


Another meeting with MDEQ is scheduled for March 6th, so it would be most helpful if you could get your comments to Larry or Ron before that date.  Their contact information is listed below:


Larry Stephens                                                 Ron Lindsay

Stephens Consulting Services, P.C.                               Milan Engineered Systems


Phone:  (517) 339-8692                                               Phone:  (989) 205-2187





Annual PUMPERS SHOW – Indianapolis Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN

February 27 – March 1, 2012


NOWRA Conference – April 2-5, 2012


Online Registration now open!   NOWRA’s Annual Technical Education Conference & 4th Northeast Onsite Wastewater Short Course -- April 2-5, 2012, Providence Biltmore Hotel, Providence, RI  Visit NOWRA’s website at for more information on this educational event, and for registration information.


62nd Annual Michigan Onsite Wastewater Conference – January 8-10, 2013


The dates have been set for next year’s Michigan Onsite Wastewater Conference. This will be our 62nd Annual Michigan Conference, and the planning committee has already started meeting monthly to make preparations.  Next year’s conference will be back at the same location --- the Kellogg Center in E. Lansing.  Feedback from this year’s conference was positive.  Attendance records indicate over 400 attended this year.




Our members of the state association automatically become a part of the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA), our national affiliate.  We do that by sending in part of everyone’s annual dues to NOWRA.  By including our total membership, we get the NOWRA membership included at a significantly reduced rate.  If one were to join NOWRA as an individual, the cost would exceed our annual MOWRA dues, and membership would only include NOWRA.

Nevertheless, members often ask the question: “What does NOWRA do for me?”  That is a valid question with a somewhat complex answer.  Let me tell you what my answer to that question would be.

First of all, by our individual and congregate involvement in our national association we:

·      Stay informed on national issues like legislative initiatives that will affect our industry and businesses.

·      Learn what is happening in other states so we have a frame of reference and can provide an informed response to regulatory issues here in Michigan.

·      Learn from dialog and communication with our peers in other states.

·      Improve our businesses and industry here in Michigan by learning from the experience and success of others elsewhere.

·      Take advantage of national educational opportunities and trade shows.

Of course, to make the most of this, we each need to read information that comes our way, and act upon opportunities to BE INVOLVED.  If you have not done so, consider attending NOWRA’s Annual Educational Conference or the Pumper Show to be held this year in Indianapolis (February 27th – March 1st), or volunteer for a NOWRA Committee.  You will meet such folks as Sara Heger and John Buchanan that spoke at our Michigan Conference this year.

For those of you that are still not convinced, I have clipped and pasted in below some of the “member benefits” listed on the NOWRA website (  You will need to visit that site to get more information on subjects of interest to you.




New Member Benefit! Errors and Omissions Insurance for Designers and Inspectors

NOWRA is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Alteris's SeptiCover insurance program. This is a stand-alone E & O insurance program which is specifically designed for onsite system designers and inspectors. It is also reasonably priced, with coverage starting at just $750.

NOWRA Member Benefit -- Discount Equipment Financing

NOWRA has partnered with Wells Fargo to offer NOWRA members real savings on financing the purchase of new trucks or equipment. NOWRA members will save a minimum of $500 over the life of the loan.

Two distance education presentations you can watch now

NOWRA recently partnered with WasteWater Education 501(c)3 to co-sponsor two fascinating presentations. One examined the Otter Tail Water Management District in Minnesota, and the second looked in depth at Enterprise Cascadia’s Hood Canal Septic Loan program. To watch either presentation, go to the NOWRA website and follow the instructions.

NOWRA Training at the 2012 Pumper Show

As we have done in the past, NOWRA will offer a full day training program for installers at the 2012 Pumper Show. Well-known and respected trainers Sara Heger and Tom Fritts will again conduct the training sessions, which will be held February 27 in Indianapolis. For a list of topics they plan to cover, go to the NOWRA website and follow the instructions.


As always, if you have any MOWRA questions, or wish to contribute an article to a future MOWRA newsletter, please give me a call.


Larry Stephens, P.E.

MOWRA President

Phone:  (517) 339-8692