History of wwoa.org

We've come a long way...

Before the WWOA could consider a web site, the Internet had to develop into a user-friendly medium. Early public Internet access was through dial-up shell accounts with an interface similar to a DOS operating system. The user navigated through an ASCII text base menu with arrow keys and a series of control functions.

Early E-mail
Typing is "Control- E" gained access to your E-mail and the arrow keys guided the user through e-mail. Once you received your e-mail, there was more header information than actual message. And replying to a message...you don't even want to go there.

Telnet
Another Internet protocol, Telnet was utilized to access bulletin boards (remember those?). Though it took a while to maneuver through the host computer, telnet was the best thing in its time.

The Web Sets the Standard
As the operational software for the Internet improved, so did its popularity. The user-friendly World Wide Web protocol soon became the accepted standard for Internet users. Soon thereafter, wastewater organizations and manufactures began their Internet presence with their own web sites. One example of an early site is the Water Environment Federation's (WEF) web discussion groups that provided national attention to your problems. Oh yeah, don't forget all those "Under Construction" web sites during this period. There was always some link that took you to a backhoe, bulldozer, or dump truck asking you to stop by later.

E-mail Discussion Groups
One of the most popular wastewater groups was the Sewer-list e-mail discussion group, with early members excited about and eager to find information on the Internet. Discussions were not only centered around troubleshooting and advice, but new web sites were eagerly sought after.

The WWOA Begins Its Presence
It was at this time that the WWOA began its presence on the Internet. It all began with initial encouragement from Scott Thompson of the Green Bay Metro Treatment Facility. Scott gathered some information on having a web site for WWOA board members to review. Soon afterward, at the April 1996 Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, the idea was pitched to the Board. The following excerpt is from minutes published in the June 1996 Clarifier:

Hanson asked the Board to allow McKee to purchase the equipment and the needed service for getting on-line to enable electronic communication of information. Hanson made a motion and direction McKee to purchase the necessary equipment and services. We could even post on the WWOA bulletin Board the schedule of meeting as put out by WWEA calendar so our membership with computer can use it. Busch seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Scott designed our first site and put it on-line September 26, 1996 with a URL of http://www.win.bright.net/~wwoai. (the "i" at the end is for incorporated)

Scott revealed the site to members of the WWOA during a technical session at the 1996 annual conference in Oconomowoc. Below is a image of the first site main page.

As the web site grew in content, more direction was need for new ideas. Scott discussed the possibility of forming a web committee with WWOA President Gary Hanson during the Internet Workshop presented at the LaCrosse Annual Conference. As a result, at the December 1997 BOD meeting, it was decided to form a web committee. Below are the meeting minutes published in the February 1998 Clarifier:

President Hanson stated he would like the Board to consider forming a Web Site Committee. Scott Thompson feels a committee would help handle the job of keeping the site current. With representation from each of the state regions, the web site would truly belong tot the entire state organization. Regional representation could mean promotion of the site at the regional meetings. It's important that the committee also have Executive Board representation, as the site grows there will President Hanson asked Boden to become the Chairperson of this standing committee. President Hanson also directed McKee to insert a section in the policy book for this electronic mailing committee. [snip] Fales made a motion we move ahead with expenditure funds to develop this committee under the direction of Rich Boden, Scott Thompson, and Ron Altmann. Strackbein seconded the motion. Motion carried.

A web committee was put together soon afterward with Rich Boden of Plover as Chair, Scott Thompson and Dan Busch of Green Bay, Bob Scherr of Lake Mills, and Gary Zimmerman of Beloit. In the spring of 1998 the web committee met for the first time at the Green Bay treatment plant.

In 1998 the WWOA purchased its own domain name. The new URL is simply: wwoa.org. New versions of the web site came out soon after.
1998 WWOA Web Site
2000 WWOA Web Site

Up to this time, Scott Thompson preformed his web site duties while an operator at Green Bay's treatment facility. When he left to pursue other interests, Rich Boden recommended keeping Scott on as a hired webmaster. Those details can be found in the February 2000 Clarifier BOD minutes along with other site developments such as, the searchable database and the creation of a Wisconsin treatment plant directory.

The site was renovated in the spring of 2001. Better coding allows pages to download faster. The site has a personal feel as random photos of Wisconsin treatment facilities appear on the pages. (Members are encouraged to provide a photo or digital jpeg of their facility for the site.)

The WWOA web committee has tried a lot of new ideas to serve members better. The site has expanded its content beyond announcements as it now offers an e-mail list, digital copies of the Clarifier, demonstrations for plant tours, tips from other wastewater operators, Bob's Big Bug page, and a Wisconsin treatment plant database.

WWOA Web Committee Chairpersons
1998-Rich Boden
2000-Tim Nennig
2004-Bruce Bartel
2012-Jeff Bratz