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Who Is NOWRA and What Do They Do?


The National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) is the premier non-profit organization in the United States that is dedicated to advancing the onsite and decentralized wastewater industry. All types of related professions are represented in membership; including installers, regulators, manufacturers, suppliers, educators, and more.

The association has been advocating for sound practices, public awareness, and solutions to challenges for the onsite and decentralized industry since its founding in 1992. NOWRA’s national headquarters are located in Westford, Massachusetts, though a number of state-level affiliates can be found throughout the U.S. and Canada.

NOWRA’s official mission statement is:

  • To strengthen and promote the onsite and decentralized wastewater industry through activities that support recognition and promotion of professionalism for industry practitioners.
  • To implement best management practices throughout the industry that provide sustainable wastewater infrastructure solutions.
  • To achieve greater public awareness of the economic, environmental, and public health benefits of onsite and decentralized facilities.
  • To serve the public interest.

This mission’s execution is guided by a Strategic Framework for Unsewered Wastewater Infrastructure. The principal goal of this framework is to achieve sustainable development and protect both human health and environmental quality. Click here to read more about the framework and its seven components.

NOWRA’s website has a number of resources available for members, including a news & publications page, a documents library, an events calendar with national & state-level events, and a signup form for the group’s email newsletter. You can locate septic system professionals through the Septic Locator tool; all NOWRA members are automatically listed to the locator database.

Perhaps most importantly, NOWRA has a wealth of educational courses available to register for on its website. NOWRA’s “Installer Academy” ensures that all industry professionals can access quality training. Courses are available both in self-paced online formats or in-person through trainings arranged with NOWRA’s expert instructors. The popular online courses include “NOWRA A-Z,” an overview of onsite wastewater treatment; “NOWRA Installer Training,” an overview of installation for both new and experienced installers; “NOWRA Troubleshooting,” an overview of the typical treatment process; and “NOWRA Design,” a framework for designing decentralized systems.

NOWRA online courses can be purchased by both members and non-members, but are available to members at a discount. You can find which states have pre-approved NOWRA’s courses for continuing education credits at this page.

The association also has a number of resources available for community education. Decentralized wastewater systems and the advantages they provide are often poorly understood. A long list of resources explaining the benefits, details, and funding of onsite and decentralized systems may be found here — including resources from NOWRA itself, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and National Environmental Services Center.

Each year, NOWRA holds an onsite wastewater mega-conference in conjunction with the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT) and the State Onsite Regulators Association (SORA). The 2023 event was held in Hampton, Virginia, and papers and presentations from the conference are available to review here. This year’s event will be held from October 20-23, in Spokane, Washington. Registration will open by late spring or early summer.

If you are interested in lobbying, NOWRA is constantly working in Washington, D.C., at the Capitol and the EPA, advocating to make sure there is always a seat at the table for those in the onsite and decentralized wastewater industry when it comes to wastewater policy and funding. There are a variety of ways you can get involved in the advocacy and lobbying arm of NOWRA.

From furthering education to assistance in growing businesses to information and outreach to national advocacy, there are many reasons to become a NOWRA member. To learn how to join the national organization or one of the 23 state-level affiliates, visit this page. Direct NOWRA membership costs $150 per year for industry professionals, $95 per year for industry regulators, and $35 per year for students.

At, we currently have 125 NOWRA resources indexed in our documents database. To find them, select "HOST" in the dropdown menu, then choose "National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association." Once you make that selection, a second dropdown will appear where you can choose "CATEGORY," “TYPE,” or “STATE” to narrow the search even further. If you have a specific search term in mind, use the “Keyword Filter” search bar on the right side of the screen.