March 2016, Vol. 71, No. 3

Editor's Log

NASSCO: 40 Years Of Trenchless Rehab Leadership

The 2016 – 17 NASSCO Board of Directors

Robert Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief, Underground Construction Magazineby Robert Carpenter, Editor-In-Chief

In 1976, a fledgling association was born to serve the rehabilitation sewer market. From those humble days, through many ups and downs, the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) has grown into the leading trenchless rehabilitation organization with more than 550 members.

NASSCO’s propriety programs such as the Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program and Inspector Training and Certification Programs have truly changed the way municipal organizations, consulting engineers and contractors inspect, maintain and rehabilitate America’s underground sewer infrastructure.

The NASSCO story is one of accomplishment followed by desperation and finally an amazing phoenix of salvation and prosperity that has fundamentally changed industry in an incredibly positive manner.

After leading the fight to lift the EPA ban on acrylamide grout, NASSCO entered a period where it was trying to find its true direction and role within the rehabilitation marketplace all the while trying to remain economically viable. In 1999, then NASSCO President Jerold Botts led the efforts to secure someone that he believed could help NASSCO find purpose and regain its financial footing. Enter Mike Burkhard (now president of Reline America). He, along with the help of his wife Lisa, effectively resolved the serious financial issues and challenges threatening to shut down the organization. He then shifted attention to reorganizing and refocusing the group’s path forward with greater vision and diversity. Burkhard developed a plan to adapt the U.K.-based WRc’s sewer inspection protocols to fit U.S market needs.

Enter Rod Thornhill, president of White Rock Consultants of Dallas and Fort Worth, TX. Thornhill was a firm believer in commonality of inspection protocols. He quickly grasped the concept and expanded the vision. Thornhill spearheaded efforts to create the now famous Pipeline Assessment & Certification Program (PACP) used by thousands of cities across the U.S., Canada and now Mexico and South America. Burkhard left the association in 2002 for challenges in private industry, but turned his job over to another well-known and respected industry figure, Irv Gemora.

Gemora was a believer in the PACP potential and fully supported the PACP developmental efforts. The team painstakingly adapted the original WRc material to match U.S. needs and standards. When complete, it barely resembled the original WRc program, yet it served the U.S. market extremely well.

There were objections to the program. Some felt it could be an inhibitor to contractors or that it was not going to be well-received – or wanted – by industry. But since its release, PACP has quickly evolved into the industry standard for sewer pipeline assessment. When Gemora retired in 2010, new NASSCO Executive Director Ted DeBoda seamlessly took up the mantle of PACP. Municipalities embraced the concept and value of properly evaluating and recording all captured data regarding sewer condition assessment. It remains a living, evolving process and NASSCO constantly adjusts for improvements and enhancing the professionalism of the program – version 7.01 was recently released. The program has also been adapted for manholes and laterals.

The revenue generated by PACP not only allowed NASSO to prosper economically, but the association has been able to continuously reinvest in additional benchmark industry programs. For example, former NASSCO Technical Director Gerry Muenchmeyer developed another revolutionary industry program with the Inspector Training & Certification (ITCP) program. The initial course has focused on cured-in-place pipe to great success and the program is being expanded to other technologies.

After 40 years, NASSCO continues to prosper and grow at record levels. Membership in 2016 is up by 20 percent as more and more people join and support the NASSCO mission of improving the industry.

But the greater credit to NASSCO lies in the respect it has so justifiably garnered within the sewer industry. The association fully recognizes and embraces its fiduciary role in the industry. Certainly it has accumulated a sizable – and advisable – rainy day fund. But beyond that it is willing to reinvest into the industry it serves in a big way. NASSCO has its fair share of scholarship programs – as it should. But it’s much more than that. NASSCO funds are not spent on razzle-dazzle ventures or self-promotion. Rather, the funds are continuously invested in new programs and activities aimed at making a better industry.

The perception of NASSCO today has evolved significantly over the past 40 years. It has become the ultimate industry leader for trenchless rehabilitation. Here’s hoping that our industry will benefit from another 40 years of such accomplishment.

(410) 442-7473 (PIPE),

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