Meet the Speakers 2021

2021 Convention and Trade Show – Bringing the convention and trade show to you!

WCOWMA-BC 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:


Sara Heger
University of Minnesota, Onsite Sewage Treatment Program

Dr. Sara Heger is researcher and instructor at the University of Minnesota in the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program in the Water Resources Center and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department. For over 20 years, she has been conducting research and providing education and technical assistance to homeowners, small communities, onsite professionals, and local units of government regarding onsite wastewater treatment.  She has presented in over 30 different states and provinces in North America regarding the science of wastewater treatment including design, installation, and management. Sara is the president of the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association.  Sara serves on the NSF International Committee on Wastewater Treatment Systems and chairs Minnesota’s SSTS Advisory Committee.  She has BS in Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering and a MS and a PhD in Water Resource Science.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Septic Systems

There are numerous issues that have arisen related to septic systems in relation to COVID-19. The first relates to worker safety. As the epidemic began and continues concern for those working around wastewater and access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).  This presentation will discuss the proper application and use of PPE and other safety measures.  This presentation will discuss how COVID-19 is treated septic systems and how the wastewater surveillance on both wastewater treatment plants and septic systems is being conducted. Another challenge that will be discussed is the shifting of wastewater production as many people shifted towards using home offices, home schooling and generally spent mush more time at home and the increased their load to their system. At the same time the use of sanitary wipes and other sanitizing products increased due to heightened safety concerns. This presentation will discuss the short- and long-term potential impacts of these issues.

Compaction – the Enemy of System Longevity                                                                                                        Humans along with all our activities cause widespread soil compaction. Compaction constrains oxygen (O2) movement in the soil and shifts soil toward anaerobic conditions. Less O2 diffusion into the soil leads to a chemically reducing soil environment. Compaction leads to smaller pore spaces and slower infiltration rates.  This presentation will discusses the causes of compaction including wet soils, material handling and the the weight of vehicles/equipment, pedestrians, and animals.  It will then focus on avoidance methods and potential solutions for sites have been compacted.

Learning Objectives:

·         Discuss why compaction is a problem in a soil treatment area

·         Identify methods to remediate a soil treatment area not performing properly.
·         Explain why a mound may be surfacing at the media/sand interface versus the original grade.
·         Discuss how different distribution methods affect biomat formation


TSS – Sources, Impacts and Solutions

Total suspended solids (TSS) is found in all wastewater in varying amounts.  The type of facility and activities influence the levels in the raw wastewater.  The sizing of our primary treatment in our septic tank and the use of filters impacts the levels as well.   The effectiveness of our aerobic units and media filters is another variable in the levels of TSS.  If the levels are elevated it can impact the clogging of filters/screens, media filters, and soil treatment system.  This presentation will discuss use, design, and management options to reduce the impacts of TSS on system performance and longevity.

Sabrina Diemert
Ministry of Health

Sabrina Diemert is a Drinking Water/Wastewater Engineer with the Ministry of Health. Since joining the Health Protection Branch, she has been working primarily on the drinking water file (including the forthcoming Drinking Water Systems Design Guidelines, Guidelines on Ultraviolet Disinfection of Drinking Water, and Guidelines for Pathogen Log Reduction Assignment). Before coming to the Ministry, she completed her PhD in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. In her research, Sabrina looked at the pathogens (bacteria and viruses) in wastewater to determine community disease trends and inform public health responses, which ended up being more relevant to today’s world than she anticipated. During her stint in Hawai’i, she also worked at the Department of Health’s Biological Response Section as a bioinformatics intern, conducting genomic analysis on SARS-CoV-2 isolates.

Rupert Benzon
Ministry of Health

Rupert Benzon has worked as the Manager of Land Use (Policy and Legislation) with the Ministry of Health (Health Protection Branch) for the past 10 years.

Prior to this, Rupert worked as an Environmental Health Officer with the Interior Health Authority and the City of Toronto for 10 years, where he specialized in recreational water quality and health hazard abatement.    He has also been involved with onsite sewage and drinking water quality programs at the field level during his 14 years with government.

Infections and Diseases Known to be Present in Wastewater

This presentation is an information sharing and general learning opportunity. Rupert and Sabrina will provide an overview of the various bacteria, viruses, parasites and other pathogenic organisms associated with onsite sewage system wastewater. They will also go through some case studies related to pathogen risks and assessment in both onsite and municipal wastewater systems. The goals of the presentation are to demonstrate the range of pathogens present in wastewater, and how well-designed onsite sewage systems can mitigate health risks from these microorganisms.

Jennifer Wilson
Ministry of Environment

Jenn Wilson has worked for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for over 15 years. During this time, Jenn has worked in a variety of roles and areas from developing policy to inspecting waste authorizations and promoting compliance. Working in the Regional Operations Branch, Jenn helps develop branch training and is the co-chair of a transboundary water quality project. This water quality project work includes community outreach and compliance promotion within the watershed. In addition Jenn coordinates inspections around areas with consistent water quality concerns. Jenn is a Professional Agrologists and volunteers for her local branch. Outside of work you will find Jenn bicycling, hiking or gardening.

Issues of Wastewater Contamination in the Nooksack River Basin

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ministry) is working with the State of Washington and BC partners to improve the water quality in a shared watershed. This shared watershed includes Bertrand, Pepin and Fishtrap Creeks in the Aldergrove and West Abbotsford area, known as the Nooksack River watershed. High levels of bacteria have been detected in these local creeks and the project’s partners are working to ensure water for drinking and other farm uses remains clean and safe to use.  This presentation describes the problem, why both jurisdictions are working together, what’s been done (monitoring surface water quality, inspecting operations and promoting rules) and what the results are to date.

  • Who we are: Environment – EPD – ROB
  • Onsite regulatory framework for discharges to ground – ENV versus Health and the different types of authorizations
  • ROB how we work together – authorizing versus monitoring versus compliance
  • This project:
    • How it started – WA’s shellfish closures
    • Who’s involved – all the stakeholders
    • Where it is
    • What we are doing – monitoring, inspecting, identifying pollution sources, outreach and communications
    • What we’ve learnt – sources of fecals, human in BST, E coli monitoring results and patterns
    • What we’ve done – engaging agriculture, inspections, reaching out to Onsite community, FVHA
    • What’s left to do
    • Life after this project

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.

Bryer Manwell

Bryer Manwell is a registered professional engineer in both Alberta and British Columbia. Currently, Bryer serves as the President of WCOWMA-Onsite Wastewater Management of BC, where she promotes implementation of environmentally sound practices within the onsite wastewater sector. With her environmental engineering background, Ms. Manwell has applied her hydrogeological expertise to projects involving: environmental monitoring for community water supply systems and landfill sites, groundwater supply evaluations, mine site water balance evaluation, onsite wastewater system design, aquifer characterization, solute transport groundwater at risk of containing pathogens (GARP) assessments, and source water protection planning. Facilitating groundwater licencing applications and liaison between regulators and clients further rounds out Ms. Manwell’s core practice areas.

Permeable Reactive Barriers

Operation of onsite wastewater systems has the potential to create deleterious effects on human health and the environment. Nutrient and pathogen loading from onsite wastewater systems to surface water bodies is of particular concern in areas of high population density and high groundwater. Nutrient loading to surface waters can cause algal blooms and negatively effect fish spawning habitat. Permeable reactive barriers (PRB) are a cost-effective inground passive polishing treatment for onsite wastewater effluent elevated in nutrients and pathogenic bacteria. This presentation will outline case studies in British Columbia, Canada where PRBs have been utilized to sequester nitrogen (as nitrate) for on-site wastewater systems installed near lake foreshore.

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 MacIlwham, 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 – Restoring Wastewater Infrastructure in Disaster Zones

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.

Stuart Nash, Manager
Professional Practice Development and Outreach, EGBC

As Manager, Professional Practice Development and Outreach, Stuart Nash is responsible for supporting Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Continuing Education (CE) Program and CE Advisory Group, as well as liaising with engineering groups around the province. Stuart is a registered professional engineer with a background in municipal utilities and site servicing engineering. Before joining Engineers and Geoscientists BC in 2018, he was a project manager and project engineer for a municipal engineering consultant.

Professional Governance Act Impacts on Engineering Professionals

Continuing Education, Regulation of Firms, and Audit and Practice Review

In this presentation, Stuart will review the changes to policies and programs of Engineers and Geoscientists BC due to the Professional Governance Act. He will focus on the key changes and timelines that all engineering professionals need to be aware of to ensure they are meeting their professional responsibilities. He will discuss the new Continuing Education (CE) Program and Regulation of Firms program, as well as changes to Audits and Practice Reviews, the Code of Ethics, and Bylaws. He will also be taking questions on these changes to help professionals understand the changes that are currently underway.

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 – Restoring Wastewater Infrastructure in Disaster Zones

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.

Bruce McColm
Northwest Waste Water Systems

For the past 30 years Bruce has worked and lived in the Peace River area of North Eastern BC.

He has been in the construction trades for about 50 years. Bruce started out doing carpentry and transitioned into the mechanical trades about 25 years ago. Starting in 1990 he was a contractor setting up remote industrial camps. This work necessitated him to become a B-ticketed gasfitter and a Red Seal plumber.

Bruce became involved in the wastewater industry after BC changed regulations in 2007, essentially, his clients asked him to take on the role of an ROWP. He became an ROWP in 2008 and started Northern Waste Water Systems.

LTSA Website Tools

This presentation will outline how to use the LSTA website tools to:

  • Find an aerial map, title and survey for any piece of property in BC
  • find the roll number and property assessment for any property in BC
  • Access Federal maps, Farm West, and Peace River Regional District Webmaps

Daniel Morris
DS Wastewater Design

Daniel Morris is a 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.

Daniel served on the At-Grade Technical Advisory Group that developed the standards for the design and installation of LFH At-Grades and participated in the research on these systems at Fish Creek, near Calgary, AB.

LFH At-Grade Systems

Update your knowledge and understanding of LFH At-Grades, how they function and how to design them. This presentation will provide insight into the research that was completed to bring LFH At-Grade Systems into common use in Western Canada.  This technology was adopted in British Columbia in the 2015 SPM V3.

Steve Carballeira
H2O Environmental Technologies

Steven M. Carballeira, P. Geo. holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and is a hydrogeologist with over 30 years consulting experience. Steve worked for EBA Engineering and then Levelton Consulting in their environmental/groundwater divisions on Vancouver Island. Steve and his wife Elaine moved to Denman Island in 1997. In 2005, when the new Sewerage System Regulation came into effect, they started H2O Environmental Ltd, a groundwater consulting firm. He has been involved in hundreds of wastewater system designs for residential, small commercial and multiple unit developments and soil and groundwater investigations for small to large subdivisions. Steve has also completed many hydrogeologic studies, well setback reductions and drinking water well quality and quantity evaluations. He has worked on most of the Gulf Islands over the years and also teaches groundwater and wastewater courses.

The Fine Print

The devil is in the details.  What should be included in that filing?  Are there templates out there to help with the design process?  What tools do we use to ensure our designs and filings meet a standard of excellence?

Garth Millan
WCOWMA Trainer

Garth Millan is currently an Instructor with WCOWMA-BC, teaching Planner, Installer, and Maintenance of septic systems. He has focused most of his career working as a maintenance provider and enjoys paying forward everything he has learned over the years.

He served on the Board of WCOWMA-BC from 2012 – 2019 as Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President, and as President. He has been actively involved with WCOWMA-BC in re-tooling the current training curriculum to meet the BC Standard Practise Manual.

He is retired from being an active Practitioner in the field, concentrating all of his energy to training and mentorship. He has actively focused on the importance of offering recruits an opportunity to be “hands on”. The only way we old timers learned what we learned was to be allowed to make our mistakes and make the changes necessary to do the job better. If we want good practitioners to replace us, we have to spend the time necessary to develop them.

Pumping Septic Tanks – Important Considerations Between Pumper & Maintenance Provider

So many new technologies in the wastewater industry can be very daunting to Pumper Operators and for Maintenance Providers working with wastewater.

Trefor Digby and Garth Millan have many years experience operating as Maintenance Providers in all regions of British Columbia and have come up with this introductory presentation and some solutions to challenges, when it comes time to “pump out” tanks.

Authorized Persons and Pumper Operators must be sharing the same information with homeowners to avoid confusion, misinformation, and unnecessary repair costs.

We will review some creative solutions to challenging situations. There are some very important considerations regarding when it is the right time to empty tanks; should they be refilled with fresh water after pump out; and are we to be concerned with the electrical and pumps and blowers.

Business Classes

The WCOWMA-BC has arranged with Power Concepts to provide training on the Microsoft Suite of programs.  If you want to learn more about managing your email through Outlook, creating spreadsheets in Excel or managing projects through OneNote, these three-hour workshops are for you.  Individually priced or bundled up for cost savings.

Frank Byl started PowerConcepts in the basement of his Kelowna home in 1998. Since then the business kept going and growing to eventually become Western Canada’s premier software training company. Today, they work with hundreds of clients from Vancouver to Toronto in the public, non-profit, and private sectors.


Tired of living in your Inbox? Maybe you shouldn’t be there. Learn how to create a powerful time management dashboard in Outlook that will show you all that you need to do on one screen and allow you to manage your priorities and schedule. Learn key setting changes in Outlook and the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Acquire knowledge so you can eliminate 100’s of mouse clicks per day and keep you more focused on what is most important. You will learn to better manage your time and delegate work.


Learn the ten most useful functions for working through typical excel data, formulas and questions. It will be a fun filled, interactive and challenging workshop. Participants will be provided with step-by-step instructions to all the problems at the conclusion of the seminar including videos of each of the ten projects we will work through.


OneNote is the ultimate note taking tool. This power tool captures notes in a freeform manner, add emails, documents, web sites, video or audio in one easy to organize and easy to share tool. The collaboration functionality of OneNote makes it a powerful tool to share ideas and work.  OneNote integrates with Outlook both as a place to organize

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.



Learn more or register now