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Frequently asked questions

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What is the Awards Program?
CWEA's Awards Program is a large and important part of fulfillment of CWEA's Mission, which includes promoting and recognizing excellence in the wastewater profession. The program costs CWEA $85,000 per year for the plaques, engraving, flags, certificates, application binders, and administrative costs.

What is the Timeline for the Awards Program?
The timeline starts in February, when Committees must provide CWEA with any revisions to standards and criteria for the annual Awards. On July 1st, award forms for 16 categories of State Awards, plus WEF Awards are distributed to Local Sections and Committees by CWEA staff.

Local Sections then select Local Section winners, who receive awards at Local Section Award Banquets between October and February.

Winners at the Local Section level then progress to the State-level competition when the Nominee and/or the Local Section Awards Chairs submit their nominations to CWEA by the deadline which is the second Friday in January. Each Committee then reviews nominations from Local Sections, and selects the winner. State Awards are presented at the Awards Luncheon at the Annual Conference in April.

Nominees for WEF Awards must be submitted to CWEA by mid-January, for review by the Membership and External Relations Committee. The deadline for submittal by CWEA to WEF of nominees for WEF Awards is March 1.

Why has the Board Adopted an Awards Policy?
In June, 2001, the Board adopted a formal Awards Policy to clarify the purpose of the Awards Program, ensure consistency and equity for participants, and protect the credibility and value of the program.

What are the Guidelines for Interviews and On-Site Visits?
Not all awards require interviews or on-site visits. However, for those that do, the Board has approved guidelines for interviews and on-site visits for State awards.

Those guidelines require a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 judges for on-site visits or interviews for only the top 3 applicants for State awards. The guidelines also require that all judges visit all locations within that category of award and participate in interviews. If any judge cannot participate at one location or on one interview, then that judge’s review comments on other sites or interviews shall be excluded from consideration.

The policy specifies that Inspections of sites for State Awards shall be a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 3. Interviews shall be a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 1 and 1/2 hours.

Finally, the policy specifies that inspections and interviews be based on standard questionnaires or areas, such that each nominee receives the same questions, or is evaluated on the same criteria.

Must all Nominees be CWEA Members?
Yes. Non-members are not eligible. If an award is for an agency or company, at least one person from that agency or company must be a member of CWEA.

Must Local Sections Follow the Same Guidelines?
Not all Local Sections conduct interviews or on-Site visits, however, those that do should establish criteria that will ensure the same consistency — i.e. the number of judges, and minimum and maximum times for interviews or on-site visits.

Are Winners Notified Before, or at Awards Ceremonies?
This particular topic has been discussed and debated for many years. Some Committees have always notified winners, and others have not. The new policy, adopted after two-years of input and consideration by the Ad Hoc Awards Task Force, specifies that winners of State Awards will be notified in writing three weeks prior to the CWEA Annual Awards Lunch.

Local Sections may choose whether to notify or not.

While anticipation and surprise are enjoyed by the audience, notification of winners allows the winner to invite family, friends, co-workers, Agency Board members, supervisors, etc. to share in the celebration of the pinnacle of achievement — a lifetime achievement for many people. This increases the significance of the award to the winner, which is the objective of the program.

Can Winners Compete Again in the Next Year?
No. The new policy precludes winners from consideration for a period of one year, and encourages winners instead, to participate in the judging for the awards in that year. The objective is to encourage those who might not otherwise do so to participate in the program.

Can Local Sections Have Their Own Awards Forms or Criteria for Winning?
No. To protect the significance and value of the CWEA State Awards, all winners must use the same forms and meet the same criteria and standards.

In the past, some Local Sections have selected winners at the Local Section level, using different forms and criteria. This has lead to some problems, including negative press reports, which reduce the credibility of the whole Awards Program. Also, use of different forms and criteria at the Local Section level may result in winners from that Local Section not being as strong a competitor, and cause them to be less likely to win the State Award.

Can Local Sections Have Unique Awards?
Yes. However, to protect the credibility of the Program, and ensure legal compliance, Local Sections who initiate any new unique awards must submit the criteria and intent of the award to the Membership and External Relations Committee for review prior to presenting any new awards.

What Period of Time Does the Award Cover?
This is also a topic much discussed. The new policy establishes that the time period for consideration of the award shall be the most recent July 1– June 30 year.

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Who are the Board Members?
The Board members are 17 CWEA members that other members have selected and voted into office, to make decisions on behalf of the members, in the bet interests of the organization.

How are Board Members Selected?
Local Section Boards and Committees, including the Northern and Southern Regional Committees, may nominate any Active member (member of CWEA and WEF) to fill any vacant position.

Each year, 6 positions are filled, four of them requiring a vote of the membership — Vice President; WEF Director; at-large North and South; and two of them are appointed — TCP Chair and Northern or Southern Regional Committee Chair.

The nominations are reviewed by the Nominating Committee, which also interviews candidates for the Vice Presidential position. The Nominating Committee then recommends a slate of candidates to the Board, at their January Board meeting. The Board votes to approve the slate to be presented to the membership at the Annual Business Meeting, held during the Annual Conference in April.

At the Annual Business Meeting, the membership has the opportunity to vote for candidates on the slate, and on any candidate nominated from the floor.

Until 1998, CWEA had never had a request for proxies. In 1998, a question from a member lead CWEA to investigate the legality of proxies, and CWEA legal counsel advised that every CWEA member has the right to vote by proxy, guaranteed by the California Nonprofit Corporation Code, Section 7613 a), which provides that every member is entitled to a vote by authorizing another person to act by proxy — unless the right has been withdrawn or limited in the CWEA Articles of Incorporation or Constitution and Bylaws, by vote of the membership. CWEA members have never limited this right, nor withdrawn it, and the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were silent on the issue. Therefore, the membership has the right to vote by proxy.

Following this legal opinion, the CWEA Board incorporated language from the California Corporation Code into the CWEA Constitution, affirming the right to vote by proxy, to avoid any confusion in the future.

How is a Proxy Different from an Absentee Ballot?
An absentee ballot allows a member to vote his/her own wishes on the slate of candidates, by mailing his/her vote in ahead of time.

A proxy is authorization given by a member to another member, who will be present at the Annual Business meeting, allowing that member to vote not only his/her own vote, but to vote on behalf of those who have granted him/her a proxy.

CWEA has no provision for absentee balloting. Therefore, members who cannot be present at the Annual Business Meeting, can only exercise a “vote” by granting the power to a member who will be present, to vote in his/her name.

What is the Process for Exercising A Proxy?
The Board established procedures for use of proxy votes on January 29, 1999.

After the Nominating Committee has developed a slate for the next election, all candidates are advised of their right to request a copy of the standard proxy form from the CWEA office.

  • Only the standard CWEA Proxy Form may be used. That form must contain the name of the member to whom the proxy is being given; name, signature and membership number of the member granting the proxy, and the date on which it is given.
  • Each proxy form is limited to a single purpose, so a separate proxy is required for each office or issue.
  • Only CWEA members whose membership is current, may vote or assign their vote to another member by proxy.
  • Only members of CWEA whose membership is current may be designated to receive the proxy of another member.
  • Completed proxy forms must be received at the CWEA office 7 working days prior to the Annual Business Meeting, to permit verification of membership numbers .
  • Any member who has received proxy forms must be present at the Annual Business Meeting in order for those proxies to be counted. If that member is not present, proxies assigned to him/her are not counted.
  • At the time of the election at the Annual Business Meeting, the holder of any proxies is required to notify the Nominating Committee Chair of the number of proxies that have been confirmed by the CWEA staff.
  • For any office for which there is more than one candidate (I.e. the nominee approved by the Board for the slate, and candidate(s) nominated from the floor, a written ballot is held and the proxies count as ballots, with the proxy holder designating the candidate for whom the ballot shall be cast.

What is the term of office?
The term of office for each Director is 3 years, with the exception of the TCP Chair Director, who serves a single year, during his/her term as Chair of the TCP Executive Committee. Each officer serves one year in any officer position.

Who are the Officers?
The officers are the Vice President; President Elect; President; and the Secretary /Treasurer of the Association.

What are the duties of the Board?
Non profit Board Members have 10 basic responsibilities:

  1. Determine a Program of Work to fulfill the Mission.
  2. Select and review the Chief Paid Executive.
  3. Ensure effective organizational planning, including the establishment of policy and direction.
  4. Ensure that there are adequate resources, and manage those resources effectively.
  5. Know the issues and exercise independent judgment in the best interests of the organization.
  6. Enhance the organization's public standing.
  7. Rely upon experts.
  8. Delegate the day-to-day business of the organization.
  9. Recruit and orient new Board members and assess Board performance.
  10. Ensure legal and ethical integrity and maintain accountability.

What are the Board Committees? Why have them?
In 2001, the Board created a total of 4 Board-only committees, and divided the work responsibilities among the 4 committees:

  • Planning and Program Development Committee — Comprises the President Elect, Vice President; Past President, 3rd year Regional Committee Past Chair and the 3rd year Director-at-Large. It is responsible for budget development; conference steering; design of the annual program of work; new program development; planning work sessions and strategic planning.
  • Operations Committee — Comprises the Secretary/Treasurer; 2nd Year Director; 1st Year Director; TCP Chair; 1st year Director-at-Large and the 2nd Year Regional Committee Chair. It is responsible for oversight of committee and conference activities; financial operations and budget implementation; publications; operational policy development and TCP.
  • Membership and External Relations Committee — Comprises all 3 WEF Directors; 2nd year Director-at-Large; and 1st year Regional Committee Chair. It is responsible for awards; constitution and bylaw issues; local section activities; marketing; communication; membership and WEF.
  • Executive Committee — Comprises the President, and the Chairs of each of the other three Board Committees. It is responsible for setting Board agendas, personnel and nominations.

The purpose of the Committees is to make best use of limited time available for reviewing and understanding the increasing volume and complexity issues confronting the organization. Each Committee is responsible for reviewing all items within its domain prior to the quarterly Board meeting, and for developing a report and recommendations to the full Board, which then takes final action on all issues. Staff is responsible for preparing reports and recommendations to Committees, and for preparing the Committee reports and recommendations for the Board.

Are Board Costs Paid by CWEA?
CWEA pays only for meeting room rental for Board meetings, and for meals during Board meetings. Board members are responsible for paying for their own travel and hotel rooms, and for any meals other than those served at Board meetings. The cost to Board members is typically approximately $2500 to $3500 per year.

How is Liability Limited by and for the Board?
Board members incur personal liability for activities of the association. Liability is limited by risk assessment and management; reliance on experts; and purchase of insurance.

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What is a Local Section, and which Local Section is mine?
CWEA Local Sections are geographic groupings of CWEA members, distributed throughout the State of California for the purpose of providing educational programs to assist in the fulfillment of CWEA’s Mission to educate wastewater professionals. (See the Local Section map and boundary descriptions.)

What is the legal basis for Local Sections?
CWEA Local Sections are authorized by the CWEA Constitution. They can be formed on the basis of a Board vote of approval, providing that they meet the basic criteria of 20 CWEA members, and submit a Constitution and Bylaws that is consistent with CWEA’s Constitution.

CWEA Local Sections are not independent — which means they are not separately incorporated, and do not have separate tax identification numbers from the IRS. Instead, they are “Integrated Chapters”, meaning they share CWEA’s tax identification number. The CWEA Board of Directors absorbs the liability for activities of the Local Sections.

Who are Local Section members?
CWEA members may elect to join a Local Section or Sections, and must pay the Local Section dues in addition to CWEA membership fees.

How are Local Section Officers chosen?
Each Local Section has an annual nominations process, for the selection of the Local Section President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer and other Local Section Board positions. Local Section members may be nominated, and may participate in the vote, usually at the Local Section Annual Meeting. Local Section leaders frequently are already, or become leaders in CWEA, chairing Committees, or serving on the CWEA Board of Directors.

How are Local Section activities funded?
Local Section membership dues are a primary source of income to Local Sections. Revenues are also received by Local Sections, from educational activities such as dinner meetings or professional development activities.
CWEA underwrites a portion of the costs of Local Section activities, by absorbing the cost of insurance, tax preparation and audits through the CWEA general fund. CWEA also provides some staff support services and awards given by the Local Sections as part of the CWEA awards program. CWEA also maintains a reserve fund, which secures Local Sections, and protects against losses or judgments not otherwise covered by CWEA purchased insurance.

Aggregate Local Section financial holdings represent slightly more than 51% of CWEA’s gross assets.

CWEA Local Sections do not directly contribute to CWEA’s General Fund.

How do Local Sections contribute to CWEA?
A) Local Sections major contribution to CWEA is in the form of fulfillment of the CWEA Mission, to educate wastewater professionals. California is a large state, and the costs to members or their agencies to travel to statewide training venues is substantial. Local Section training activities are accessible and of shorter duration than the traditional 2-4 day statewide training conferences, so costs are kept lower, making training affordable.

B) Local Section subscribers frequently recognize the value of increased involvement in CWEA, and elect to join CWEA. So Local Sections also serve as a membership development mechanism.

C) Local Sections have been generous supporters of CWEA Kirt Brooks Scholarship Fund, making annual donations to achieve the initial goal of $200,000, from which $5,000 is annually awarded in scholarships to CWEA members and their families.

What is the role of the Regional Committee with regard to Local Sections?
The Northern and Southern Regional Committees are intended to function as “Regional Councils”, gathering information from Local Section Leaders, and providing information about CWEA state activities in return, and coordinating Local Section activities to avoid calendar conflicts.

Each Local Section is required to name two representatives to the Regional Committee. Generally, these are the President and Vice President of each Local Section. If these officers cannot serve, the Local Section may select any other officers of the Local Section Board. Regional Committees meet quarterly, and attendance at these meetings by all representatives is required.

There are 10 Local Sections in the North, and 7 in the South.

Why must Local Sections report financial activity?
Because Local Sections are not independent associations, but are part of CWEA, using CWEA’s tax ID for all activities, the CWEA Board incurs all liability and fulfils all financial reporting responsibilities, through the CWEA paid staff.
Monthly financial reports are required, and must be received by CWEA staff within 3 weeks of the close of each month. Annual Budgets, and annual reports are also required within 30 days of fiscal year-end — which is June 30th.

Records of expenses and income for such items as pins or tee-shirts must be kept and reported. CWEA staff aggregates the total profits for CWEA and all Local Sections, reports to the IRS, and pays the State Board of Equalization any money owed.

Amounts over $600, paid to individuals not incorporated, require completion of a 1099 Form and the new State DE 542 form. CWEA staff completes all filings upon notification by the Local Section.

How can I get other questions answered about Local Sections?
Call, write, fax or email any question to the CWEA office. You can also contact the Local Section directly using the contact information found on their website or their list of officers.

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What is CWEA-only membership?
Wastewater professionals, and other interested citizens, can join the California Member Association (CWEA) of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), without joining WEF. To join CWEA only, any individual can check the CWEA member only box on the Membership Application and send in a check for the CWEA dues. CWEA membership applications are processed in the CWEA Oakland office.

What is WEF membership?
If individuals join WEF, either through CWEA or directly through WEF and are employed in
California , they automatically receive CWEA membership. There is no need to join CWEA separately if you are also a WEF Member. CWEA dues are included in the WEF member price.

If you are applying for WEF membership through CWEA, CWEA will enter your information and forward WEF dues to WEF headquarters in
Alexandria , Virginia . CWEA will send you a membership card once we receive your new membership number assigned by the WEF office. This option can take about 6 to 8 weeks to process.

If you are applying for WEF membership directly through WEF, you may call WEF Member Services at 1-800-666-0206 with any questions. Once WEF has received and processed your application, they will send your information to CWEA where it is entered into our database. CWEA will send you a membership card in 6 to 8 weeks.

Does membership in CWEA also mean I am a member of a Local Section?
Yes. All CWEA renewals and membership fees include a fee for Local Section Membership. Local Sections are not be responsible for billing their own members, rather all billing is done through the CWEA office, and a portion of your membership dues will go towards a Local Section Membership of your choice. This means that all Local Section members are also CWEA members.  If you would like to join more than one Local Section you may do so, just click here http://www.cwea.org/pdf/localsections/localsection_additional_memform.pdf.  You will receive information about your Local Section with your membership card after your membership is processed.

What do my CWEA membership dues provide? How do I benefit from CWEA membership?
The largest benefit to those who join CWEA, is the opportunity to get information that will help you professionally, increase your salary through your knowledge and ability as a wastewater professional, and access to information and support for professional problems that arise in your field of wastewater treatment. Through its training programs; technical articles in the Wastewater Professional; study sessions for the
TCP exam, and through the certification program, wastewater professionals are able to expand or maintain cutting-edge knowledge in the wastewater field.

  • CERTIFICATION: CWEA’s certification program is the premier wastewater testing program in 6 disciplines of wastewater treatment. The programs and services are available to members at discounted prices.
  • TRAINING: Annual Conferences in April each year, bring together 2,000 wastewater professionals, and top quality speakers on wastewater topics in over 8 concurrent tracks. Additionally, several Specialty Conferences are held annually, focusing on topics in emerging issues, Industrial Waste Treatment and Inspection; Biosolids; Electrical and Instrumentation and Safety. Most Local Sections offer monthly meetings with training as a component.
  • NEW PRODUCTS: Exhibits by manufacturers and suppliers of wastewater equipment and products provide conference attendees with the opportunity to evaluate, compare and gain information on state of the art developments from 150-200 exhibitors at the annual conference.
  • AWARDS AND RECOGNITION: The Awards Program provides recognition for outstanding individuals and agencies in more than 20 categories of wastewater treatment. Only CWEA members are eligible.
  • SCHOLARSHIP: CWEA’s Scholarship Program annually awards CWEA members with up to $5,000 in funding for education.
  • CONTACTS: Membership Directory available on-line on the CWEA WEB site, in a members-only area, provides contacts at your finger-tips.
  • LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY : Leadership opportunities at the CWEA and Local Section level provide members with opportunities to develop new leadership skills; contribute to the profession and professional recognition to enhance professional standing within the industry.
  • IMMEDIATE INFORMATION: CWEA has a very large, very sophisticated WEB -site, with a huge array of information posted, and updated daily. Among the offerings are educational calendars that include listings statewide, and a jobs available site.
  • FUN : Life is short – the profession is a hard one. CWEA offers an opportunity to meet new people who know and share your professional concerns, but who also know how to enjoy what they do, and they can show you how to make what you do a more enjoyable experience.

How long does it take to process my application?
Applications sent directly to CWEA are processed within 2-3 weeks, with new member packets mailed within 4 weeks.

Applications sent to WEF take 6-8 weeks, as do WEF applications sent to CWEA, as CWEA must wait for WEF to process a member number before we can issue new member cards.

Can my agency pay for my membership at the same time as other employees?
Agencies can pay for multiple employee memberships at one time, with a single check. The Agency should simply attach a list of the names of all individuals for whose membership that check is paying. A recent survey shows that 70% of membership dues are paid for by the employee’s agency.

I work for a company, not an agency. Can I join as a Corporate member?

CWEA and WEF both have a Corporate membership category. However CWEA benefits are different from those of WEF. When a company applies for a WEF Corporate membership, the company currently pays the dues and receives several publications (see the CWEA membership options for titles)  however, only 1 designated individual in the company receives CWEA Association membership.  Look at the CWEA membership application for specific benefits.

When a company has a WEF Corporate membership, more than 1 employee may use the WEF member number to receive the member rate at a WEF event. However, for attendance at a CWEA event, only the individual employee designated as the CWEA member may use the member number to receive the member rate, since CWEA currently has only individual members.

I work for a utility (or agency). Is there a Utility or Agency membership?
CWEA has adopted a Utility membership status CWEA's category provide a package of membership benefits unique to this membership category.  It also has a single individual as the designee of the utility/agency.

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What is a raffle?
Raffles are a type of lottery in which prizes are awarded to people who pay for a chance to win. Each person enters the game of chance, by submitting a detachable coupon or stub from a paper ticket purchased.

Who may conduct raffles?
Only eligible private, tax-exempt nonprofit groups qualified by the Attorney General’s office, may conduct raffles to raise funds for charitable or beneficial purposes in California.

CWEA qualifies as it is exempt under revenue and taxation code section 23701 d).

However, because of the complicated reporting required, the CWEA Board of Directors has passed a policy that states that no raffles are to be held within CWEA at Local Section, Committee, and State events. Door Prizes, within specific guidelines, are still permitted.

What is the difference between a raffle and a door prize?
Raffles are a lottery in which money is exchanged for a chance to win a prize, and individuals may purchase multiple tickets in order to win.

Door Prizes permit all in attendance to have an equal opportunity to win a prize. It is in no way related to any money paid for the ticket or attendance, nor donated to CWEA.

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How should Local Sections or Committees respond to requests to donate to other organizations or individual projects?
More and more frequently, CWEA and its Local Sections are receiving requests from organizations or individuals with projects that seem good, interesting, valuable and worthwhile. Here are 3 things for the Local Section Board to think about if it receives request to donate:

  • How does the person, project or organization fulfill CWEA’s and the Local Section’s Mission?
  • Do we have written guidelines, approved by the Board, in place to help us make fair and equitable decisions about donation requests? If we do not, how will we respond to other similar requests in the future in a fair and equitable way? Does this gift create a precedent?
  • Non-profits can’t legally make “gifts” of member funds. Can we justify the donation to the satisfaction of our members?
How can I get other questions answered about CWEA or included on the FAQ list?
Call, write, fax or email any question to the CWEA office. They will be answered, and the question and answer will be added to the FAQ listing on the CWEA website.

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If you have any other questions regarding membership, please contact the membership department.