Driving Forces

July 1, 2015
Industry associations reflect on their beginnings, evolutions & achievements

International Erosion Control Assn.

The International Erosion Control Assn. (IECA) was formed in 1971 when a Washington state hydroseeding contractor, George Harrison, polled a group of contractors to determine if any interest existed for an erosion control contractors’ group. The result of his efforts was the first erosion control conference, held Jan. 15, 1972, in Portland, Ore. The event was a historic one, establishing from the onset one of IECA’s greatest strengths—the ability to bring people together to solve problems. 

The first conference concluded with a discussion about creating an association of erosion control specialists. The group agreed there was a need for such an association, and the creation of IECA was under way. Later that year, Gordon Christiansen of Western Processed Fibers added an important vision to the developing association, promoting the idea that an entire industry should be involved, not just one segment, and suggesting that the membership include a much broader range of professionals.

The organization’s accomplishments include:

  • 1971: The National Erosion Control Assn. was formed by George Harrison in Washington. 
  • January 1972: The organization’s first conference was held in Portland with 35 people in attendance. 
  • November 1972: The National Erosion Control Assn. organized its first board of directors and committees. 
  • Feb. 18, 1973: The association’s name was officially changed to the International Erosion Control Assn. to reflect the organization’s global emphasis.
  • 1980s: IECA’s activities focused primarily on its annual conference, the venue of which gradually was pushed eastward across the U.S. from Denver to Dallas to New Orleans and finally to Washington, D.C., in 1990.
  • 1987: IECA adopted its first Long Range Strategic Plan and discussions began on the development of national and international chapters.
  • 1988: State representatives were selected to initiate chapter development.
  • 1989: IECA held two international meetings. Two other historic events occurred that year, including the formation of IECA’s Committee on Standards and the publication of IECA’s first Products & Services Directory.
  • 1990s: IECA emerged as the leading association for erosion and sediment control professionals.
  • 2012: IECA created two regions to better serve its members. 
  • Early 2015: IECA was accredited as an Authorized Provider of International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) CEUs.

A greater range of professional development courses now are available, driven by member and industry needs. Training will occur internationally and offer

multilingual education. A greater emphasis also will be placed on developing college-level curriculums, field schools and research centers.

IECA has pledged its continued compliance to the IACET standard. The goal is to eventually have all IECA education, including online training, vetted through the process and eligible for CEU credit.

IECA engenders a sense of belonging to its members. In turn, members are empowered to participate in a dynamic and exciting profession—and to help guide the association into the future. 

Stormwater Equipment Manufacturers Assn.

The Stormwater Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (SWEMA) was formed in 2008 by a group of storm water treatment product and technology manufacturers and providers to advocate for effective and sustainable storm water treatment practices that improve water quality and help the overall water environment. SWEMA reaches out to all members of the storm water community, from regulatory agencies to engineers, acting as a sounding board for new ideas, practical regulation and innovative storm water treatment concepts. 

SWEMA also advocates and promotes the need for proper routine storm water BMP maintenance by both private and public sector owners and end users of storm water BMPs; BMP testing protocols for conventional and emerging storm water treatment technologies; and the need for consistent standards by public agencies to ensure appropriate sizing regimens are followed for all storm water management practices. 

SWEMA has published numerous BMP performance, operation and maintenance guidelines, including examples of a Draft Stormwater Maintenance Agreement for BMP owners and local agencies. Local agencies and regulators also are able to obtain a SWEMA-recommended Draft Stormwater Maintenance Ordinance to develop agency-specific BMP maintenance ordinances. 

SWEMA has been working with other industry trade associations and stakeholders to develop a BMP testing protocol for validating the performance and use of all BMP systems designed for private and public use and applications. Evaluating all types of storm water treatment BMP systems and practices, both public domain and proprietary systems, is critical to creating a consistent standard for meeting water quality requirements throughout the country. SWEMA advocates for consistent and verifiable storm water BMP testing protocols for all communities. 

SWEMA’s four committees include the Maintenance Committee, which assesses current BMP maintenance practices and lifecycle costs, promotes BMP maintenance standards, and educates local, regional and state regulatory agencies about the need for standardized BMP maintenance for both proprietary and nonproprietary BMPs; the Government Affairs and Regulatory Committee, which acts as an information clearinghouse on the regulatory aspects of the storm water industry, allowing members to monitor and respond to current and pending storm water regulations; the Technical Committee, which is tasked with evaluating and commenting on local, regional, state and federal storm water BMP performance testing protocols, sizing criteria and other technical matters relative to evaluating and properly implementing public domain and manufactured storm water treatment practices; and the Marketing Committee, which develops and delivers all SWEMA external communications as well as executes marketing initiatives that support the strategic plan and branding strategy of SWEMA to outside stakeholders and the public.

Ohio Stormwater Assn. 

The Ohio Stormwater Assn. (OSWA) is a group of public and private citizens advancing the management of storm water and related natural resources through education, leadership, watershed-based coordination and technical assistance in Ohio. 

It first organized in the late 1990s as the Ohio Stormwater Taskforce to discuss storm water and watershed issues. The group generally was composed of soil and water conservation staff, county engineers, city and county officials, regional planning organizations, state government agencies, watershed groups, consulting engineers and others. The name of the group changed in 2007 to the Ohio Stormwater Assn., and a board of directors was formed.

The organization’s accomplishments include: 

  • 1998: Organized its first storm water conference, held in Blue Ash, Ohio. The conference was attended by more than 200 people from across Ohio and featured innovative and preventive storm water management approaches.
  • 2000: Joined the Water Management Assn. of Ohio as its storm water division, enabling the organization to apply for a federal 319 grant.
  • 2000: Sponsored regional workshops across Ohio for Phase Two communities as they prepared to begin storm water management planning.
  • These venues were used to assess barriers to cross-jurisdictional participation.
  • 2005: Issued a report regarding Ohio legislation and the potential for Ohio communities to manage storm water from a multi-jurisdictional or watershed basis.
  • 2009: Worked collaboratively with the Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners to cosponsor the second Ohio Stormwater Conference in Mason, Ohio. More than 450 people attended the conference.
  • 2010: Worked collaboratively with the Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners to cosponsor the third Ohio Stormwater Conference at Kalahari Resort and Conference Center in Sandusky, Ohio. The event attracted more than 450 attendees.
  • 2011–2014: Cosponsored the annual Ohio Stormwater Conference at various locations in the state. Attendance grew dramatically, with 650 attendees in 2014.
  • 2011–Present: Sponsored and presented a number of workshops targeting storm water management throughout the state of Ohio. 

OSWA is a not-for-profit, non-political organization. The association is organized formally as the storm water division of the Water Management Assn. of Ohio, which maintains a 501(c)4 status. 

The association provides educational and networking opportunities for professionals focused on reducing the negative impacts of storm water runoff. OSWA holds educational meetings on topics of interest to members and sponsors the Ohio Stormwater Conference each spring. 

The organization has a 15-member board and works with all organizations, governmental entities, consultants and others who have an interest in storm water and watershed management. 

American Public Works Assn.

The American Public Works Assn. (APWA) is the result of the merger of two predecessor organizations, the American Society of Municipal Engineers (AME), which was formed in 1894, and the International Association of Public Works Officials (IAPWO), which primarily was composed of non-engineers who were engaged in public works management and service delivery. The majority of AME’s members were consultants, design engineers, construction supervisors and water works directors.

Recognizing that other associations had obtained financial assistance to develop their programs to become self-sufficient, in 1934, AME and IAPWO agreed to work toward a joint organization. After creating a successful Joint Public Works Congress where the two organizations could meet, AME and IAPWO decided to merge. Funding was secured, and on Jan. 1, 1937, the American Public Works Assn. was formed and established its headquarters in Chicago.

APWA has witnessed extensive growth, accomplishments, turmoil and transition. It has been a leader in many areas, including education, history and research. Over the years, APWA has conducted scores of research projects and published many research reports that were regarded as significant contributions to the field of public works.

Special interest groups within public works were accommodated through the development of the Institutes for Professional Development (now known as technical committees), as well as through the introduction of specialty conferences such as the North American Snow Conference. Other special groups of note include the Council on Emergency Management, the Council on Equal Opportunity (now the diversity committee), the Public Works Historical Society, MicroPAVER, Management Practices and the Management Practices Accreditation Council.

APWA has demonstrated its commitment to strong international linkages through its support of the Canadian Public Works Assn., and through the continual strengthening of relationships with public works officials in Australia, Mexico, Slovakia and Japan.

Motivated by the wish to upgrade office facilities and make visible and substantial changes in the organization, APWA headquarters was relocated to Kansas City, Mo., in 1993. As public works services become more complex and the skills required to deliver them become more diverse, APWA continues to position itself to respond to these changes and the needs they identify. 

Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl./Geosynthetic Materials Assn.

In 2015, the Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl. (IFAI) celebrated its 103rd year and 35 years representing the geosynthetics industry through the the Geosynthetic Materials Assn. (GMA). 

IFAI is an international trade association headquartered in Roseville, Minn., representing more than 1,500 member companies that participate in the industrial and specialty fabrics and other textile industries worldwide. IFAI also publishes Geosynthetics magazine and organizes many events, conferences and trade shows to support the industry, such as the biennial geosynthetics conferences. 

From its humble beginnings, when 14 members met at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver on Sept. 12, 1912, IFAI has become the largest trade association representing suppliers, end product manufacturers, and service providers of industrial and specialty fabrics and textiles. IFAI currently represents 12 distinct market segments—including the original tent and awning markets—and extends into highly technical markets such as geosynthetics and advanced textiles.

The association originally began as the National Tent & Awning Assn., representing canvas and awning manufacturers in the central part of the U.S. However, with the advent of polyester in the 1960s, polypropylene and acrylics in the 1970s, and more synthetic-based fibers in the 1980s, the association changed its name to the Industrial Fabrics Assn. Intl.

In 1980, IFAI formed the Geotextile Div., representing the manufacturers of geotextiles. In 1982, IFAI organized the Second International Conference on Geotextiles in Las Vegas. It began publishing Geotechnical Fabrics Report magazine (now Geosynthetics magazine), with the first issue in the summer of 1983. IFAI has organized or co-organized 14 geosynthetic conferences since 1982 and has published the conference proceedings.

In 1983, IFAI formed the Geomembrane Div. and in 1997, IFAI merged the Geotextile and Geomembrane Divisions to form GMA. By 2004, GMA had gained significant membership and developed a strategic plan to expand the market for geosynthetics. A major part of the plan was to compete with the traditional construction materials at a policy level within the U.S. government. Thus, in 2005, GMA started its government relations program and hired a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., to affect government policy and help grow the geosynthetic market in the U.S.

The second need identified by GMA’s strategic plan was more education regarding the proper use of geosynthetics. GMA looked to Dr. Bob Koerner and the Geosynthetic Institute to provide technical assistance to the marketplace through the GMA Techline, which became a robust educational tool for anyone with technical questions regarding geosynthetics. Koerner and his team have fielded thousands of technical questions. In addition to the GMA Techline, GMA works with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and provides geosynthetic samples to support FHWA geosynthetic courses.

Through its government relations efforts during a 10-year period (2005 to 2015), GMA achieved landmark wins for the geosynthetic market in the U.S. These were achieved through concerted efforts that included semi-annual visits to Washington, D.C., and ongoing conversations with members of Congress and their staffers. In 2007, geosynthetic materials were publicly acknowledged and prominently discussed for the first time at a congressional hearing. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office issued a federal report to Congress that included geosynthetics as a material that can improve pavement performance and reduce lifecycle costs. In June 2014, geosynthetics were written into U.S. law for the first time in the Water Resources Reform & Development Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now is required to consider geosynthetics as a material in projects. In December 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first national coal ash disposal regulations and through its lobbying efforts, GMA was able to secure language in the final regulations that approved the use of “alternative clay liners” (geosynthetic clay liners). This language and mandate provide increased geosynthetics opportunities in the U.S.

With more than 75 member companies, GMA continues to grow the market for geosynthetics in the U.S. and worldwide. Its mission is to serve as the central resource for information on geosynthetics and to provide a forum for consistent and accurate information while increasing the acceptance and promoting the correct and safe use of geosynthetic materials. 

Southeast Stormwater Assn.

After three years of discussions and preliminary meetings, about 50 leaders in storm water management from throughout the Southeast met in Atlanta on Jan. 21, 2005, and voted to form the Southeast Stormwater Assn. (SESWA). 

SESWA was incorporated to create a storm water-focused regional association within EPA Region 4 that allows city and county governments, the consulting community and other organizations to be better positioned to address the challenges related to storm water management, permitting and finance. The association’s mission is to provide services that help storm water professionals to better perform the duties of their positions, such as: 

  • Advocacy through representation of storm water interests at the regional and nation levels in courts and regulatory agencies; 
  • Communications and information sharing via newsletters and the association’s website; 
  • Networking among storm water professionals in local government, the consulting community and academia; 
  • Surveys of storm water utilities in the Southeast; and 
  • Training and education through conferences, seminars and webinars.

SESWA conducts two regional educational events each year. Its spring seminar in Atlanta is held each April and an annual conference is held each October, the location of which is moved throughout the Southeast. The ForeCast, SESWA’s e-newsletter, is published every two months. A survey of storm water utilities in the Southeast is conducted and its corresponding report published every two years. Two webinars are held each year.  

SESWA has been actively engaged in storm water policy and regulatory matters. A SESWA staff member was appointed by EPA as a member of the Small Entity Advisory Committee when revisions to national storm water regulations were under consideration. SESWA filed detailed comments on the proposed revisions to definitions with the Waters of the U.S. rule and filed briefs in the Supreme Court on cases of national significance to local storm water programs.

SESWA currently has 170 organizational members, including cities, counties, consulting firms, districts and academic institutions. The association is governed by a 22-member board of directors and a five-member executive committee.

The Water Council

Water has played an essential role in shaping the world’s civilizations past and present; looking forward, water will take center stage as the world economy shifts and the pressures of global population expansion continue to collide with the limitations of global resource scarcity. Those places that lead in innovating water technologies—and master the complex blend of expertise needed to efficiently treat, store, process, distribute and use water—will have the foundations to gain strong positions in the global economy. 

In 2007, a group of water industry, academic and civic leaders convened to discuss the breadth and strength of the water cluster centered in Milwaukee. The Water Council emerged from those meetings to leverage Milwaukee’s and Wisconsin’s resources and transform the region into a World Water Hub. The significance of this idea is evident in the Water Council’s growing success and recognition as a global water leader.

Milwaukee itself is considered one of the world’s most significant hubs for water research and industry because of its established and extensive history of more than 100 years of engagement in the study, treatment, storage and movement of water within the full water cycle. 

The strong spirit of innovation and collaboration between industry, government and academia has coalesced into one of the most comprehensive water technology clusters in the world. The Water Council is transforming a region by harnessing the power of an existing international industry cluster, linking a rapidly expanding academic research community and attracting some of the nation’s brightest and most energetic water professionals. 

Milwaukee is a city of innovators and makers, with multiple universities and businesses committed to finding solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges. The Wisconsin water cluster is advancing its global position by acting as a magnet for creative talent and innovative ideas. In September 2013, the council opened the Global Water Center, establishing the physical foundation of Wisconsin’s water cluster. The Global Water Center provides a synergistic environment that promotes collaboration among industry professionals, academic researchers and engineers, water entrepreneurs and emerging startup companies. Eighteen months after opening, the center housed 41 tenants, including 14 startup companies (six of which participated in the Water Council’s BREW Accelerator), two universities (with a third scheduled to enter by the end of 2015), and water-related companies of all sizes. 

The Water Council has organically emerged as a freshwater epicenter, driving the development of water industry talent, technology and businesses. The recent adoption of a Leadership Strategic Vision will assist the Water Council as it embarks on a new chapter as an agent of global change that can help improve the human condition around the world. 

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